Get It Together Already

This article was originally posted to AllAccess’ “The Bigger Picture” series, written by Charese Fruge on October 20th, 2021 

I know it’s hard to believe, but we’re already a little over 20 days into Q4 of 2021. And as much as it feels like these last two years have been more like 10 years, 2021 has flown by. That’s why it’s important to take a step back now and remember everything you need to take care of before the New Year, so you aren’t dealing with it over the holidays or stressing out and playing catch up at the beginning of 2022.

There is nothing worse than having to spend hours, 2 days before your vacation collecting audio and editing “Best Of’s” to air on your show while you are out, or scheduling Holiday Music and producing Specialty Countdowns to air over the Holiday break or sending off copy for the voice guy or woman who’s basically on vacation for the entire month of December. You get where I am going with this.

I know things are crazy right now, trying to work from home with the kids, or adjusting to being back at the office and having to commute, dealing with a world where things oddly aren’t as easily accessible as they were just 2 years ago. That’s why It’s going to be important for everyone to be able to enjoy the little bit of downtime that comes with the Holidays and celebration of the New Year.

Don’t forget though, that the end of this year doesn’t mean the end (unless I am missing some GIANT universal signs). You also need to make sure you are prepared for first quarter before you leave for the holidays, and I mean more than just prepared for the first week back. We all know 2022 is going to “Hit the Fan” on January 3rd, and we better be prepared to be off and running.

So, I am going to go through a check list for you that will hopefully help you prepare yourself enough, so you actually get to enjoy some downtime with your family and friends over the Holidays.

First, FOR THOSE OF YOU PLANNING ON PLAYING CHRISTMAS MUSIC THIS YEAR, have you decided if you are going early this year, launching for the first time, or business as usual? If you have a direct competitor, think about their strategic timing, create a plan to separate your brand from them, and most importantly, be better than them. Regardless, your library should already be built, imaging written and at least on the way to being produced, digital strategy and partnerships laid out, and promotional support in the can. Set deadlines and be ahead of the game.

Second, if you are talent, and planning to be out for an extended period of time, make sure you or your producer (if you have one), have gone through audio, planned strategic “Best of Bits,” and edited them down to “nothing but the juice.” Have a rundown for your “Best Of” shows just like you would for your normal show so you can make sure there are no repeats, especially during the same hours, and that bits that need to be set up are scripted so you can do so when the time is right. Set up daily social media posts to support your bits as well as promos that are updated daily to keep your time slot sounding fresh and consistent with what you air.

And for goodness sakes, fight the fight! If your GM/Market Manager/PD Wanna Be tries to tell you to set up guest hosts or have the Midday Talent or Night Guy fill in for you while you are out, make sure you explain the benefits of “Best Of’s” and the tune out anything in your place will cause. No offense, but they are not YOU, and it throws the entire station off. Consistency is the best policy regardless of the time of year. There is nothing worse than trying to FORCE guest hosts to try and do what you do or create your content structure when you are gone. Just playing the hits is even better than No “Best Of’s.” But that’s worst-case scenario. Also, don’t forget to pre-record your endorsements. It’s the holidays, people are looking for gift ideas and spending money. Make sure you know your schedule and the spots are taken care of as if you never left the building.

Third, if you are a Music Director, start laying out your plans for any specialty countdowns or year-end shows. Build the clocks for them and if you can, insert them into your music scheduling system where they belong. In some instances, you can get away with scheduling those ahead of time. If you have year-end lists, send them to all the jocks so they can start doing prep for these shows which will most likely be voice tracked or pre-produced. Give the talent a deadline for the prep and make sure they are prepared to make it sound as if they are live and in studio when the shows air. If the shows are done live, the talent will have already done the prep and they will sound prepared. By the way, send this little task to the AM shows now too. If they outperform the station, there will be considerable benefits to having them do one or two of these features. There’s plenty of time to have them do this now or early, and there will be no available excuse for them to deny the request. Keep in mind some shows, you, and their producer (if they have one) will have to help. If they win, you win.

And finally, if you are a PD or Morning Show, set a meeting with your Marketing and Promotions Directors ASAP. Sit down and strategize about what promotions you will tackle during the last month of the “actual book” for 2021. And while there is no excuse to slack during the “Holiday” book (because your job is quality content no matter what or when you do it), strategize on a Q1 Promotion or campaign for both traditional and digital assets to make sure you come back to work with a BANG. Remember how hard January is, even without the uncertainty of the Covid pandemic. Figuring out what the new schedule is and getting people back into the habit of tuning in is going to be critical for creating occasions and then praying for TSL. So, it’s got to be something that will make a connection, move the needle and be compelling enough to get the listeners to hang around and/or engage on social media. Try to think of what your target demo’s priorities will be for January, and Q1. If you can figure out what that is and engage your traditional, streaming, and digital audience, you’ll be way ahead of the game when 2022 opens its doors