It’s a simple but profound idea…

Programming is about design, and design is about change.

In a format where the most popular songs tends to sound alike, it is critical that we design change in, because it doesn’t happen naturally. I first realized this when I was programming Smooth Jazz, a mostly instrumental format with a musical spectrum of almost nothing but saxophone and guitar. I learned pretty quickly that sameness inhibits interesting.

You can design change from fast to slow, laughter to tears, serious to funny. The more change you design in the more interesting the experience, like the last great concert you went to.

“An epic key change can make a pretty good song instantly legendary.”

It’s easy to see how change applies to your station’s music design, but what about to the content from your wacky deejays?

“Make the big little and the little big.”

Chris Evans, Virgin Radio in England

Chris Evans describes the process of taking a big celebrity or artist and making them little; putting them on the listeners’ level as real human beings.

Jimmy Fallon and James Corden do this beautifully. Fallon clowns around with Justin Timberlake, while Corden does carpool karaoke with huge stars like Paul McCartney, Barbra Streisand, or Stevie Wonder. He makes them so “little,” so everyday, we can actually imagine ourselves riding along and singing along with them.

Make little things big. Transform a real listener into a star. Put them on stage, make them a hero, celebrate them with a moment they’ll never forget. Do this right and you’ll transform an ordinary contest or promotion, and transform the listener’s relationship with your station.

Thanks to my friend Troy West for inspiring me to write this Frost Advisory!