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Consultant Mike O’Malley on the importance of capitalizing on cultural moments

Recently, A&O&B’s Kenny Jay and I engaged in a discussion about being “in the moment.” The discussion began with Kenny noting the lack of stations playing a cut from an extremely popular artist, despite strong research, listener familiarity and star power.

“The fans are there now,” he said. “This is your chance to be [in the moment] with your fans. Don’t miss it.”

The benefits of being in the moment can’t be overstated. The good news is, doing so requires just two things: awareness and execution. Awareness means recognizing market-wide talk-abouts waiting to be capitalized on. Execution involves capturing the spirit of a talk-about, then presenting it in a way that cuts through clutter.

Neither needs to be painful or time-consuming.


With a Google calendar full of events and a rocket-paced environment, we’re all going to miss opportunities. Fortunately, you can level up your ability to be in the moment simply by improving your listening skills and becoming an “intentional” or “active” listener, fully present and focused on a conversation, listening to understand rather than to reply. This makes spotting opportunities easier and opens the door to collaboration by creating a safe environment for exploring ideas.

Being present in your surroundings is another way to be in the moment. A trip to the grocery store is a great place to hone your skills. What are people buying? Wearing? What captures your attention (good or bad)? You don’t have to limit yourself to trend-hunting. What “universals” do you see around you that could be the source of a great story?

You may find it helpful to schedule time specifically for being in the moment. What’s on your agenda that can offer such an opportunity? Start with one minute, then expand.

Out of the Blue

Talk-abouts often appear out of the blue, and don’t come with instructions. Start with social media and do some digging. Determine the source of the event and who is talking about it. Consider the volume of conversations; perhaps the talk-about is larger or smaller than you thought. Most importantly, find out your audience’s attitude towards it.

Use your core values as your compass and take a hard pass on anything that compromises what your brand stands for. Failing to do so risks creating a brand crisis that can cause significant and sometimes lasting damage.

If the opportunity passes the relevance and appropriateness tests, consider your optimum level of involvement. Will some on-air talk and a few memes suffice? Or should your brand become involved on a significantly larger scale? What’s the risk-to-reward ratio?


Like in a novel or a movie, a clock is ticking, ratcheting up the stakes. These opportunities, should you determine that’s what they truly are, often vanish as quickly as they appear. Being late to the party can be worse than not showing up at all.

Fast-track getting ideas to the decision-making process by empowering your team to use tools like MS Teams or Slack to share ideas as soon as they see them.

I’ll Drink to This

Back when Dilly Dilly was a thing, I found and saved a Fast Company article featuring Dilly Dilly creator W+K NY that remains relevant today. It said: “Cultural moments — real-time events [can] captivate and galvanize an audience. Small windows of time where people are collectively turned-on, tuned-in, open-minded, and socially active … are obviously valuable to marketers.”

It’s absolutely worth taking a moment to be in the moment.

Mike O’Malley is co-founder of Albright & O’Malley & Brenner and has consulted country radio stations in the U.S. and Canada since 1992. Mike is a 2018 inductee into the Country Radio Hall of Fame. He also writes humorous paranormal mysteries and is an Amazon best-selling author. Reach him at: Mike@AandOandB.com