John Shomby

Consultant John Shomby shares his thoughts with Country Insider on the importance of understanding the “why” for your radio station.

Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek, in his book “Start With Why,” tells us that it’s easy to explain what and how you do something but the why is the difference. The intangible!

For most of our day, our radio stations are focused on the “who,” the “what” and the “how.” Who is your listener? What is your brand message? How can you get listeners to tune in? But what’s your “why”?

Why do listeners tune in to your station?

Why do you play the music you do?

Why did you choose that particular brand message?

There are legendary stations over the years that have answered, and continue to answer, that “Why question.” “Z100” WHTZ in New York, 99.5 KLOS in LA, “Kiss 108” WXKS in Boston and “99.5 The Wolf” KPLX in Dallas, to name a few. They are emotionally invested. They have pride in what they do daily. You can hear it and feel it. That’s why they are on the air.

The why is the wild card — the feeling that drives your listeners to act when you need them, whether it be giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to a charity or displaying your station name at a concert for a big prize or just letting you know when they are excited by a song or an artist.

Challenge your entire staff to really dig in about the listening community you serve, to look for opportunities to connect and find ways to get their attention.

Get your personalities behind the music. Let them be the connection between the artists, their music and the listeners. Don’t ignore how a jock’s interest in a song can affect your audience and draw them closer.

Use every aspect of social media to connect personally. Direct messaging has become a simple but effective means to communicate on several platforms. Use it to give your audience the feeling that they are there behind the curtain with you.

Show emotion. Let the staff know what gets you excited about the market, the music and the station. If you show it, the staff will see it, feel it and show it themselves which, in turn, will be passed on to your audience.

Now … how about you? What is your “why”? From a career standpoint, you are focused daily on “what” you’re doing, “how” you’re doing it and for “whom” you’re doing it. It makes sense because it’s your livelihood. Why are you doing it? Why did you get into this business? Why are you in this business? They are simple questions, but they will draw you closer to what you really want to do with your career.

Don’t just ask the “why” for the radio station; ask it for you! If this past year has taught us anything, it’s that life and every day are precious. We should pursue those things that give us the feeling that we are where we want to be or are headed in that direction.

For your radio station and for you – why not?

John Shomby, Country’s Radio Coach, is an independent radio programming/talent consultant working with on-air radio talent and program directors plus mentoring up and coming country music artists with his “Radio 101” course for several major record labels. He also serves as talent relations consultant for United Stations’ “Backstage Country,” a five-hour daily program that features the stars of country music.