With less than two weeks to go before Christmas, many of you have your work (or shopping) cut out for you. Hanukkah is already underway, so you only have six more nights to shop before “The Festival Of Light” is but a memory.
With all the ecommerce shopping options, it seems like there’s no shortage of stuff to buy – especially electronics and other gadgets. But as always, there are some people who are simply hard to shop for. If there’s a DJ or radio personality on your list, you may be scratching your head or wringing your hands, trying to find that perfect holiday gift.
Not to worry – the Jacobs Media staff is up to the task. We have decades of combined experience in the radio industry and have probably spoken to more DJs in the past 3+ decades than anyone you know. I’m not going to tell you we totally “get” the DJ mindset, but we have a pretty good idea of what would be most appreciated by your talented airstaff members. And we also have a good feel for the fruitcake gifts – the one they’ll sheepishly grin at, but quickly throw away or re-gift.
So, in the spirit of Kris Kringle, Tiny Tim, George Bailey, and Adam Sandler, here’s our list of can’t-miss gifts for the DJ(s) on your list.
1. Trunk swag
There’s nothing worse that showing up a station event, a remote, or other function and having nothing to give to adoring fans. This is especially awkward when your beloved DJ simply encounters someone who recognizes them. A little something – a bumpersticker, a hat, a CD, hey, even a keychain – is especially appreciated at that moment. And when your airstaff has a trunk full of inexpensive but branded goodies, they’ll feel even better about serving as an ambassador for your brand. Nothing says “Happy Holidays” like a trunkful of swag.
2. “Alexa, wassup?”
In the past 12 months, the hottest gadget in the marketplace has been Amazon’s lineup of Echo products. While many broadcasters have rushed out “skills” to ensure their stations can be streamed on these devices, it turns out that some DJs still have no idea what everyone’s talking about.
For jocks that simply haven’t purchased a device, buy them an Amazon Echo. If they have one, you can get away with a Dot (a bit less than $30).
Many in the radio industry believe this voice activated technology is already exploding, and will be even bigger in just the next couple years. Smart speakers are rapidly replacing the radio and alarm clocks at home. It’s important the airstaff understands this phenomenon, and how listeners will be calling up their favorite station, podcast, or benchmark bit.
3. Improv classes
One of the ways talent improves is to learn how to adlib, think on their feet, and get creative. As grueling and challenging as improv classes can be, I have consistently heard from those who’ve been through this gauntlet that it’s a great, character-building experience.
And not just for morning talent – anyone on the air can benefit from the techniques and tricks taught in these classes. Mike Stern would be happy to tell you about his experience. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
And BTW – this isn’t just for morning talent. Anyone on the air can benefit from these classes.
4. A trip to Morning Show Boot Camp
This year mark’s the 30th anniversary of an event that has experienced something of a refresh these past few years. Attendance continues to grow, the demographics of the on-air attendees are getting younger, women play an increasing major role in the sessions and panels – in short, MSBC has become even more substantive and essential.
Last year, Ginny Morris was one of the growing number of rock star execs on stage and in attendance. As Steve Goldstein remarked after that conference, Morning Show Boot Camp is where good talent goes to get better.
The guy who created it all – Don Anthony – celebrates the milestone this summer (August 9-10) in Chicago. I have no horse in this race, but this is a one-of-a-kind, talent-centric conference that I’ve come to truly enjoy attending.
5. A field trip to a car dealership
Dave Paulus at Max Media in Hampton Roads, VA has done this the past couple years for his salespeople. It’s time to take the jocks.
While some own a truly “connected car’ with a touchscreen and the ability to connect a smartphone, most do not. Either put together a staff field trip OR set it up so the jocks can sign up for one hour blocks to test drive these vehicles that are becoming more ubiquitous with each passing month. It’s essential your DJs see the dashboard choices, as well as the way radio is displayed in the “center stack.”
At this year’s Radio Show, the NAB had a Ford Fusion equipped with Apple CarPlay. Industry executives signed up for slots to experience this technology. It was an eye-opener, and many have told me how impactful it was in the months that have ensued. Your talent will benefit from this experience in profound ways, while seeing the world through a windshield more and more of their listeners are already experiencing.
And then there are the gifts no self-respecting DJ would ever want to receive. These are the stockings full of coal, fruitcakes, and lousy rating books you’d expect from the “Bad Santa” team or Mortimer and Randolph Dukes from “Trading Places.”
In the interest of ensuring your gift-giving is on target and hits just the right note, here are 5 gifts you shouldn’t even consider giving to your beloved airstaff.
1. A copy of “Voicetracking For Dummies”
While not the most popular edition in the wildly succesful “Dummies” series, this primer on prerecording shows has been read by far too many radio personalities. While great voictracking is an art, too many jocks use the opportunity to speed through the process, leaving out the emotion, the spontaneity, and even the little flubs that make radio live and in-the-moment.
This little book won’t do anything to advance the sound of radio in your building, so steer clear. And perhaps the devious among you will send copies to the competition. To that, I say a resounding “Bah humbug!”
2. Trade coupons from McDonalds
Free food is…well, free food. But with no disrespect to the Kroc family, not every complimentary meal will be well-received by a favorite member of your airstaff.
So don’t even bother gifting those fast food coupons or certificates from mundane, franchised family-themed restaurants to your airstaff. If you’re going to treat a valued member of your team to a meal on the house, make it from a local eatery that’s a reminder of how great the food scene is in your city. Even if it’s on trade.
3. A CD of your brother-in-law’s Indie band
Everyone’s a frustrated rock star. And when they find out you work in radio, you can be made to feel like a failing A&R guy working dingy clubs.
Don’t subject your airstaff to any of these exciting, new projects that’ll never see the light of day.
4. The “consultant’s coming to town” memo
There’s no better buzz kill during the holiday season than learning your station’s trusted advisor will be paying the station a a late-year visit, sharing wisdom, conducting aircheck sessions, and otherwise making the airstaff nuts. There’s a time and a place when consultants can be helpful and constructive.
The holiday season is not one of them.
5. An ugly Christmas sweater
Yes, the variety of horrid sweaters continues to expand with each passing yuletide season. And now rock bands often grace the fronts of these knitted monstrosities.
Sure, there are certain people who find these hand-crafted wonders charming and kitschy. Don’t assume your most valuable DJ is one of them.I’m thinking many of you may have your own ideas about the best and worst holiday DJ gifts. Please use the “Comments” section or head over to my Facebook page where the snark and sarcasm will most likely be in high gear.
And get out there and shop!
Thanks to Chris Firmage, Bill Jacobs, Seth Resler, and Mike Stern for their holiday input for this post.
Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.
In 2008, jacapps was launched - a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,000 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created - a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.
Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.