Sometimes, we don't realize just how good we have it.
I've now presented more than a dozen different versions of Techsurvey 2018 for stakeholders, the Worldwide Radio Summit, radio companies who went “all in,” and various conventions, conferences, and state associations.
And when people see some of the key reasons why broadcast radio is still a desirable option, it often surprises them. It even is an eye-opener for many who've worked in the radio industry their entire careers.
Aside from the expected characteristics of radio listening – music, personalities, and the like – what I call “stealth benefits” stand out. They include the idea that radio is easy to listen to in cars, it's a free service, and a mood enhancer – all attributes that broadcast radio quietly provides.
But one of radio's more vocal staples is something that radio insiders often take for granted, because its been there all along:
Personalities who often act as “the face of the brand.”
You occasionally hear this about sports teams. They can be very good – even elite groups of gifted players. But you'll hear analysts whine there's “no face of the team.”
LeBron is the undisputed face of the Cavs, while Brady plays that role for the Pats, but many other teams have weaker fan relationships and fewer dollars spent on merchandising because of the absence of that “JUDGE” or “OVECHKIN” or “CURRY” personality brand adorning the backs of high-priced replica jerseys and other merch.
And that personality piece – or the lack of it – goes well beyond radio and sports. I recently read a story in The Next Web – “3 reasons why a ‘live personality' can take your brand from drab to fab” – that went right to the heart of the value of a company's “face.”
The author, Manish Dudharejia, cites new platforms like Facebook Live and podcasts that are ready-made for a strong brand ambassador. He walks his readers through the brand archetypes exercise, listing the personas a spokesperson should represent.
For people who work in radio, it's a bit of a strange read because your inner voice starts shouting:
In radio, we don't have these problems – we already have great personalities.
But are we deploying them as strategically as we should?
In his story, Manish discusses the value of consumers connecting great brands with popular, recognizable personalities – how Alex Trebek is the face of “Jeopardy” and adds a habit-forming human dimension to the show.
Digitally, we've talked about how Scott Rogowsky (pictured left) has become the front man for “HQ Trivia,” an increasingly popular mobile phone quiz game. But what would it be without the fast-quipping Lag Daddy, Quiz Khalifa, Quizard of Oz?
Marketers have known that forever, which is why they've cleverly created their own “faces.”
Most of the successful consumer product franchises have had that “face,” whether it's been a live spokesperson, or a cartoon persona like Mr. Clean, Elsie the Cow, or the Michelin Man.
And it's why the Geico Gecko, Flo, and the AFLAC duck all represent the blandest of business categories – insurance companies. As the digital world is fast discovering, outstanding brands have a face that connects with consumers. With the help of the digital tool kit, these personas can become even more important to building the larger brand.
We may soon see the reverse power of a strong brand personality if ABC, in fact, decides to reboot and revive “Roseanne” – without Roseanne Barr. (Let me know how that ends up working.)
To their credit, the cast of the Kidd Kraddick Morning Show (pictured right) miraculously pulled this off five years ago next month when the eponymous host of their wildly successful syndicated show passed away.
But they're the major exception to the rule.
Reading The Next Web story about how brands should strive to establish a personality, a face is almost surreal when you work in radio.
That's because most of us can walk down the hall any day of the week and run into several of these people. When I think about the brands I have the honor of consulting, whether in Seattle or Scranton, they all have famous brand ambassadors more than capable of representing their station at audience events, as well as in front of clients.
Whether in commercial, public, or Christian radio, the very best franchises, whether they're KISW, NPR, or K-LOVE all feature bigger than life personalities, whether they truly have a “face for radio” – or not.
It's why our “Radio vs. Everybody” brand pyramid uses personality as its base. Because as our business continues to face new challenges and opportunities, it often comes down to the person behind the mic or in front of the camera who makes the big difference in terms of ratings, promotional events, and audience engagement.
Brands and platforms lacking personalities often come up short, exuding mechanical, faceless profiles. They're forgettable, and they ultimately have less “stickiness” and staying power.
As Manish concludes:
“At the end of the day, people prefer to to buy from people, not robotic businesses.”
That goes a long way toward explaining why prominent, dominant entertainers behind the mic matter – to listeners and to advertisers who pay a premium for live reads. Podcasters have realized those host reads is their “secret sauce.”
And it's another reason that for a medium where personality is like oxygen, the less voicetracking the better.
Channeling this year's Techsurvey 2018, Manish adds:
“Live streaming is the present and the future of content marketing. If you haven't nailed down the perfect live personality to represent your brand on air, you shouldn't waste another minute in doing so.”
The power of personality is something that all the great radio formaticians throughout the history of the medium understood. While mechanics like clocks, rotations, and reverb were all part of the formula, these luminaries were constantly on the lookout for the next great jock who could electrify audiences – the John Landeckers, the Dan Ingrams, the Wolfman Jacks, the Wally Phillipses, and the J.P. McCarthys (pictured right) – all of whom went on to become the “faces of their stations”…and the voices of their generations.
That “face for radio” is a steel sword in the world of brands…
…not to mention the radio broadcasting business.
Our “AQ” personality research study for Don Anthony's Morning Show Boot Camp will launch soon. It will be the very first radio research study to focus on talent, what they think, what they believe, and why they do what they do. Stay tuned for details.
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 1,200 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.
Fred was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2018.