by Tracy Johnson
Listeners demand entertainment. And as the world gets smaller, the bar gets higher for quality of entertainment in all market sizes. But as the stakes are higher, the revenue to compete gets smaller.
The most memorable and successful personalities entertain with compelling stories that connect with listeners and the radio station on an emotional level. But great talent is expensive. How can small and medium size markets afford world-class talent on a much smaller budget?
As budgets tighten, maybe a syndicated radio show is right for your station. Here are some considerations.
Could it be that a syndicated radio show is right for your station? Let’s examine the options.
Syndicated Radio Show or Grow Your Own?
One solution is to develop personalities from young, hungry, motivated (and usually raw) talent. Investing the time and resources can pay off. Of course, you may need a talent coach, and I can recommend one for you! : )
But what happens when those personalities outgrow your station, market or budget? If they’re motivated and talented, they’ll probably be moving on just when they’re capable of returning dividends. Then you’ll find yourself on a constant wheel of recruiting and training.
Another option is increasingly attractive, particularly for smaller and medium markets, and the perceived industry bias against syndication is not nearly as strong. As a result, stations are turning to syndication for high-profile shows.
With advances in technology, syndication has become a very strong option. Syndication may compromise a bit of localism in theory, but provides a product that is typically better than could be produced locally. And it’s usually a fraction of the cost of hiring a local talent.
The Case For a Syndicated Radio Show
The need for high performing radio talent in all market sizes has never been greater. The cost efficiency of syndication combined with more experienced and engaging talent makes a strong case. It allows radio stations to increase audience, grow profits, and provide quality over what can usually be generated locally.
The solution, especially for smaller and medium markets, can have a dramatic impact on your ratings and bottom line.
Steve Wall’s Talent Farm syndicates talent, including Cliff and Sharon (see below) to hundreds of small and medium markets. Wall has seen tremendous results through the efficiencies of syndicated talent:
“Some of our small market stations have grown from 300 aqh to 1500 aqh in just two ratings periods, simply by selecting the right talent with topical and timely content and a sense of humor. That’s 5x expansion, at a lower cost of operation and no management problems. That kind of growth matters for local and national advertising buys.”
The Case Against Syndicated Radio Shows: What About “Local”?
An industry buzzword has been “local, local, local”. But local doesn’t matter if it isn’t good! And, with creative minds and a little attention, syndication can sound just as local as a truly local talent. In some cases, even more so.
Wall has been working with digital distribution platforms that allows syndicated shows like Cliff & Sharon to provide hyper-local content with a minimum of local maintenance.
He describes it as,
It can be almost live and local! Air personalities sell your station, your city, and your promotions. You get custom content, custom teases and even sellable features with local ‘live’ sponsorship reads and endorsement commercials. Think of it as having virtual local talent.
What this means is a station can sound as good or better than many stations in medium and larger markets, and it can be paid for with barter commercials, cash, or a combination of the two.
Still, managers seem reluctant to take on a show they can’t control. Their concerns are valid, but carefully choosing the right show can relieve the stress.
4 Syndicated Show Solutions For Broadcasters
Full disclosure: I’m working with three terrific nationally syndicated shows that should be on your radar, depending on format.
The Bert Show is syndicated by Yea Networks. The Atlanta-based morning show is perfect for CHR and Hot AC stations. Not only do they offer customizable localization opportunities, the show comes in two forms. One is heavier on personality, the other more music intensive. This provides affiliates the opportunity to transition into the show while maintaining more of their music branding while the audience becomes familiar with the personalities on the show. For more information on The Bert Show, go here. or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Zach Sang is a hot, young talent on CH stations across North America. Syndicated by Westwood One, Zach’s dynamic personality adds energy to your station each weeknight. You can choose the self-contained show (with music provided) or program your own music. Best of all, Zach is highly engaged with affiliates for customized audio and public appearances. Contact Neal Bird, email@example.com
Wall’s Talent Farm is offering The Cliff & Sharon Show, primarily for country stations. Cliff Dumas is a CMA and ACM award-winning air personality. The show can be hyper-local for your market. The unique delivery method is completely hands-free for affiliates. The show features topical, tight breaks and is designed to fit into any daypart. Details and demos are here. or contact Steve Wall at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For male-targeted shows, you should check into the hilarious Free Beer & Hot Wings show. The talk show, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, features irreverent guy-talk with a great sense of humor. Their track record is outstanding, and no syndicated talent works harder for their affiliates, to make sure you have everything you need to win. Get details on the show here, or or email email@example.com
These aren’t the only shows available, of course. But these are who I’m most familiar with, and work closely with. And, while I may have a “dog in the fight”, I am proud to recommend them as possibilities to consider.
Is a Syndicated Radio Show For You?
All else being equal, great air talent connecting with your audience one-to-one on your station in your market is ideal. But all is not equal.
If you’re in a small or medium market, struggling to find great talent or dealing with the pressures of the reality of tight budgets, it’s something you should consider.
The costs vs. payoff of great syndicated talent is incredible,
Author: Tracy Johnson
Tracy Johnson is the founder of the Tracy Johnson Media Group. He excels in developing on-air superstars that attracts fans, grows ratings and generates revenue. He’s programmed great radio stations, leading two stations in San Diego from “worst to first”, earned dozens of radio industry awards and been named “Best Programmer In America” by Radio Ink magazine.