There’s a trap that many on air performers fall into. It doesn’t seem to matter about experience or market size, we hear this misstep on the air all the time. Once we point it out to the jocks they immediately bring their palm to their forehead as if to say, “of course! I knew that!” The truth is that they probably do know it but in the moment it slips their mind. That’s a problem. This mistake instantly pushes your audience away. It’s an instant turn off. What’s the mistake? Making the assumption that the listener has been listening for longer than they actually have. On air performers seem to make the assumption that the audience knows what is happening and what has happened so far on the show. The assumption being made is that the audience has been with you from the very beginning of the show. They haven’t. It would be nice if people joined you at the start of the show and hung on your every word until you close the mic on your very last break. That’s simply not reality.
Radio isn’t like watching a movie where the audience turns up ready to watch the story unfold from the opening credits right through until the closing credits. Radio is a medium that the audience chooses to join as and when they can. There is a convenience to consuming radio. People join at varying times based on their own personal schedule. We have to remember that. Never let it slip our minds.
When you’re on the air you need to ensure that you aren’t assuming the audience has been with you. You need to avoid assuming that everyone already knows what you are talking about. You should approach every break as if the audience has just that very moment turned you on. Actually you can take that one step and approach every break as if the audience has just that very moment turned you on… for the very first time. They have never heard you or the station before. They know nothing. Past or present.
It is important that as an on air performer you deliver your content in a way that makes the listener feel included. You must reset the scene each and every break. Make sure the listener knows what is happening. Make sure if you’re continuing a topic, you take a moment to ensure the listener understands immediately what you’re doing. If you’re going to assume anything, assume they know nothing. Be sure to guide the audience into the break. Do this at the very beginning in order to capture and keep their attention. Set the scene for them.
TV actually does a good job of resetting the scene. If an episode is part of a continuing series where each episode builds on the story from the previous episode they make a point to catch everyone up. TV producers make sure everyone is included. The producers know that with a simple recap of what happened last time they can keep the attention of the viewers who may have missed the previous episode, and most importantly the audience can join in with what is about to happen. “Previously on Bloodline…”
Next time you’re on the air don’t assume. Take the time to reset the scene for the listener.