Don’t fear hate, fear indifference

Words of wisdom from consultant Alan Mason:

When John Frost and I created the "Safe For The Whole Family" radio station (WMGF Orlando) in the early 90’s, we really weren’t expecting the depth of passion it evoked, we were only looking for differentiation. We were initially surprised when listeners called to thank the station for taking a stand they agreed with. They talked about the family safe value, of course, but they told us stories from their lives about what it meant. That’s one of the signs of a strong radio brand, when people fold the values of your station into their lives and begin to create stories about it. The response had nothing to do with the music; it had to do with the listeners. When was the last time a listener called to tell you how the "best mix" affected their lives?
The primary way we connected with the listeners was through the Magic 107.7 Promise. In it we took a stand on the issue of what their children might hear on the radio and asked for feed back. We advised people to call if they ever heard anything on- air that violated the Magic Promise. And did they call, several a day for months. Other stations who have tried to copy the "family values" concept have shied away from the idea of the Magic Promise either because they thought this clear a definition would "box them in," or because it would force people to call in with complaints, which of course are two more signs of a powerful radio brand. Being "boxed in" to us is a clear brand identity to the listeners, and having a brand identity powerful enough to motivate listeners to call the station is a good thing. Whenever a client tells me they’re getting calls from listeners pointing out instances where their pledge or promise was violated, I respond with "Great! Terrific, it’s working.” Obviously you don’t want to truly irritate your listeners. No one wants to deal with negative complaints, but it’s easy to miss the true value in those calls: People were caring enough to call. They’d been touched emotionally, and wanted to be a part of the team. They’re so passionate about your station they want to get involved.
The opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference. It’s never getting any calls, and never hearing how much those listeners cared about the station. We should all look for a way to get our listeners emotionally involved with the station. Many management and programming people miss the point, those people aren’t calling because they dislike your station, they’re calling because they’re involved and emotionally vested in your brand. What a horrible thing if your 1isteners are so indifferent to your station they never care enough to call! Celebrate the calls that are motivated by listeners being emotionally involved with your station, and be happy about getting them. Put them on the air for reinforcement and authenticity -proof of your position. Nurture this emotional involvement with your station, don’t fear it. Don’t worry or complain if listeners believe in you, and care enough to offer their perspective. It would he far worse to be so generic that listeners are indifferent about your station and didn’t care enough to call.
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