Great sports programming is difficult. It has to entertain, engage, and inform and be successful across a variety of media. It also has to present content in such a way as to make it attractive to both listeners and advertisers alike.
I believe local talk should grab listeners quickly. Strong, informed opinions right out of the gate to give the listeners and callers something to which they can react. Time should not be wasted, especially at the beginning of each hour. It doesn’t mean coming out harsh or negative or on a rant, but give the listener/caller something to grab onto and keep them listening early in the show.
In addition to strong local day parts, I created local sports “notebooks” when I was at 101.3 ESPN in Burlington. These 90 second synopses of the latest news items surrounding a particular team of local interest were both compelling content for listeners between talk segments and provided opportunity for sponsorship.
Tease and Deliver:
Teases are vital to keeping listeners through commercial breaks. Everything needs to be done with a purpose. If a guest is coming on, tease a question or two that might be posed to him/her. Keep moving the show forward and pay off the tease at the beginning of the next segment.
Promotion is a great way to create appointment listening. Each local show should cut daily promos hitting the likely major talking points for the next day’s show. We want to get the listener excited to tune in to hear what the host or hosts have to say about the hot teams and topics.
The right guest lineup can be a great addition to any sports radio show. Guests should always be topical and the a great guest on a regular basis can create opportunities for both appointment listening as well as sponsorships.
Remote broadcasts should be a regular occurrence. They can generate a great deal of revenue and provide an opportunity for the station to get its banner in front of as many potential in-demo listeners as possible.
It is very important for programming and sales to work together closely. When done the right way, sponsorships can fold naturally into the programming to deliver the message to the listeners. Radio is about generating listenership, but it’s also a business, so a close partnership between programming and sales is essential.
Augmenting local programming with national content is necessary in virtually every market. It’s important to promote these shows as well, with an eye towards local angles that will be of interest to listeners. Strong national play-by-play contracts can also be valuable, provided they have a local interest and potential for revenue.
Most of all, I believe in making each week better than the one before. Air-check sessions, and hosts willing to take and implement constructive criticism, are a big part of my philosophy. Good radio is a team game, from the PD to the producers to the air talent to the sales department, and it works best when everyone is working towards the same goal: great ratings and great revenue.