As you’re reading this, Hurricane Ida has made landfall on the Gulf Coast as an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane. Having lived in Florida for 25 years, I’m well aware of the life-altering impact of major storms coming ashore. Floridians can quickly transform into amateur meteorologists binge watching The Weather Channel. It’s never a good thing when you see Jim Cantore standing in your front yard.

We can learn a lot from The Weather Channel…

The power of winning moments. While it’s important to minimize things that result in listeners tuning away, playing defense isn’t the same as winning. The Weather Channel uses graphics, camera angles (literally), on the scene reporters, and live action video to keep viewers coming back for what Mr. and Mrs. Nielsen would call ‘listening occasions.’ We all want to know WHAT’S THE LATEST?

“A great radio station isn’t simply the one with the fewest tune-outs, it’s the one with the turn-ons listeners want to experience again and again – the moments that remind you to come back and listen again for more moments just like them.”

Mark Ramsey

The power of words. “At times Hurricane Ida was moving forward no faster than a human can walk…” “Ida could dump a staggering 18 trillion gallons, enough to cover the entire state of Texas with nearly 4 inches of water.”

I work with programming teams to create specific vernacular that best communicates the station’s brand values in ways that are meaningful to the listener. Surprisingly, few stations pay attention to the words that they use. Your station needs to have “a voice.”

In a medium that is strictly sound, the right words can transform information into emotion.

The power of perspective. What’s the camera angle that best connects with your listener’s life? The Weather Channel told us how FEMA uses a “Waffle House Index” to communicate in every day language the severity of a storm.

  • Index is green if the Waffle House menu is full.
  • Index is yellow if they are only serving a limited menu.
  • The Waffle House index is red if the restaurants are closed, because, well, Waffle House NEVER closes.

So, when you have The Weather Channel on in the coming days, consider the words of baseball great Yogi Berra, “You can observe a lot just by watching.”