My recent travels transported me into the middle of a meeting about how to stay competitive in a marketplace of Christian music formats beamed in from, say, Rocklin, California.
Inevitably the phrase “live and local” landed on the conference table like a rock through the window. After several minutes of “we’re better because we live here” navel-gazing, I broke up the ego-fest with questions like, “Does anyone care?” “How does this add value to the listener’s experience?”, and the notorious, “What are you trying to accomplish?”
I hate it when I do that.
The not-thought-out-too-much assumption is that a $7.93 an hour deejay sitting in a chair in zip code 32766 will add value beyond that of Jimmy Fallon. This kind of logic is epidemic in Christian radio and, frankly, gives me the heebeegeebees.
Live and local isn’t a real goal any more than having a red sports car is a goal. It’s merely a means to a goal. (A red sports car really means “I’m not old yet”).
Now don’t take this the wrong way. There’s nothing wrong with being live and local. Some of the snazziest stations I work with embrace this idea. But those stations understand that L&L is simply a means to a goal: to be RELEVANT in a way that is preferable and more meaningful to their listeners. Whether it’s traffic information to help me get my kids to school on time, severe weather coverage to help keep my family safe, or stories about neighbor helping neighbor that reinforces the values of your listeners, live and local is merely a means.
But there is a bigger idea. What we’re really talking about is whether L&L helps your station embrace a frame of reference that connects with your listeners.
For Christian music stations the frame of reference can be described as:
- We seek a relationship with our Creator, and desire to understand the purpose in our life
- We understand that our lives are connected to others, and that we will have an impact on our families and communities, and they on us (for better or worse)
- It is a precious thing to offer hope and inspiration
But that opens a can of worms called STRATEGY best saved for a future Frost Advisory.
So if your station is trying to compete with a format beamed in from, say, Rocklin, California, go ahead: be a good live and local neighbor. Just make sure the things you’re doing are things your listeners actually care about.