Why you can’t launch a hit morning show

In his new book Meatball Sundae, Seth Godin writes that while YouTube carries more than 7 million videos, most videos are watched for less than ten seconds.

That’s right. Less than ten seconds.

That’s how long it takes to make a first impression with pictures.

How long do you think it takes to make that first impression with radio (not for music, but for the non-music elements that set you apart from all competitors)?

Answer: A lot longer.

Because one picture is worth a thousand words. And video zips by with as many as 29.97 pictures per second – each theoretically worth another thousand words.

This is why it’s way easier to have a hit video than a hit podcast. And, of course, it’s why it historically takes two years for a new morning show to take hold – and why in the future – with diminished attention spans and soaring choice – it will take far longer.

That’s right, it will take much longer than two years to develop a new morning show. If it happens at all.

Listeners must discover the new show, then give this strange and unfamiliar show enough ten second listens that something “hooks” them. That creates a memory of an experience. And that memory increases the odds of a second experience. And eventually experience after experience creates a habit. And habits are hard to break – unless, of course, the subject of your habit abandons radio for another gig elsewhere or, say, satellite radio. Then and only then are you open to alternatives you were previously closed to.

Asking listeners to abandon their favorite morning show for a new one is like asking people to abandon their oldest and dearest friends for a stranger. Good luck.

All of this means anything that shortcuts the process to creating those memorable encounters helps establish your new show.

And this is why I have argued that the most successful new shows in radio will be hosted by stars – entertainers listeners know and want to hear even if they’ve never had a show before. This heightened level of familiarity creates the first listen. And only the first listen creates the second. Not all the marketing in the world can do that.

Will the celebrity-driven show be any good? If not, the first listen may be the last, and the show will fail. But if so, you’re on your way to a much faster success.

With an audience obsessed by celebrity, why can’t we attract more celebrity to the radio?

In the future, what’s between the records will separate success from obsolescence.

Choose your steps wisely.

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