Your listeners are stuck at home and they are bored.
Of course, when it comes to music, they have a lot of choices but none with the ability to be interactive like your station.
While listener-focused programming features have been shelved in recent years for perfectly rotated playlists, the need to connect with your listener is greater than ever. This by no means is an invitation to break or throw out the format, but extraordinary times may call for special measures – like bending a bit to include tracks the audience plays a role in selecting.
With that in mind, here are some ideas for features that encourage listeners to engage with your station by helping create some of the programming.
- Requests: The original listener interaction and possibly the simplest option. Consider bringing back a carefully programmed request feature with open slots surrounded by big hits. Solicit for requests on-air, online and don’t forget your app if it has an Open Mic feature. You may have logistical issues with the phones, so there’s always social media.
- You-Fers: Whether your station does Two-For-Tuesday or not, letting listeners pick a second song to play from a core artist is a pretty measured risk. Announce the artist and when it’s going to happen and take calls, texts, tweets, or Facebook comments on what song to play.
- Text What’s Next: Going into the break give listeners a choice of two or three songs and let them text vote to see what plays next.
- Finish Strong: If your station has a music quantity promise like a 45-minute free ride, let listeners pick the last song or couple of songs so that you finish strong. (Thanks to E Curtiss Johnson at KKBZ/Fresno)
- Theme Sets: Solicit on the air and online for songs that fit a particular theme. Play back the best suggestions as a set at a certain time.
- Last Letter Game: Construct a set of music using listener requests where each song title starts with the last letter of the previous song played. For example: “Smells Like Teen Spirit” followed by “Tom Sawyer” and then “Renegades of Funk” and so on. This requires a host with the ability to adjust music on the fly and weave a balanced set of hits and deeper tracks. If done well, it’s super compelling, highly listener interactive, fun, and maybe a benchmark.
- Pick a Side: Pit two albums against each other with listeners voting on which they’d rather hear. Then air the winner. If you choose carefully, there are plenty of great album sides. And you can always program this one in the nighttime hours.
- Listener of the Day: Honor one listener each day. Let listeners apply on your website. Favor listeners who are suffering hardships due to coronavirus. Record them requesting three of their favorite songs, and play one each daypart throughout the day with the appropriate fanfare.
We realize with fractured staffs, voicetracking, and talent broadcasting from multiple locations these aren’t the usual easy to execute slam dunks they once were. But with social media, voice memos, and apps there are a lot of ways to make them happen. If you’d like to talk execution or brainstorm ideas tailored to your station, we are ready to help.