I climbed inside in my rental car, threw my toys in the back seat and looked around for the key as I had done dozens of times before. I looked on the dashboard, between the seats, and above the sun visor but found no key. I looked on the floorboard, in the glove compartment, and in the side pockets.  No key.  

So with another traveling inconvenience “hrmph” I grabbed my stuff and headed back to the rental car office to give the innocent desk agent a piece of my mind.  “May I help you?.” “Yes,” I said, “I’ve just walked all the way out to my rental car and there is no key.” She looked at my contract and said, “Mr. Frost, your car is KEY-LESS.”

Well, now.

Despite being a royal purple member of the Avis You-Really-Travel-Too-Much Club, I couldn’t get past one embarrassing fact. I didn’t know how the car worked. It would not have mattered how many buttons I had punched, how many cubby holes I had looked in, or how many “hrmphs” I had uttered, I would not have been able to get the car started since I didn’t know how it worked.

I recently heard of a potential morning show talent not being hired because his qualifications and educational background didn’t match up with what was required for a totally different and unrelated area of their ministry. It’s like requiring the guy who mows the grass to have the same skills and education as the professor that teaches Eschatology.

To be successful in any medium one must understand how that medium works.

So for anyone that has ever been an advocate for airing a interview with a someone from the church staff, developing something “the kids will like,” or comparing the morning guy’s salary to that of the senior pastor, here is:

“7 Ways that Radio Works”
(There are really more than 7 but I figured if the concept was a good enough for those best selling business books it was good enough for me).

  1. People listen as long as they want or as long as their busy schedule allows, not as long as you want them to. Want fans? Stop thinking about what you want on the air and start thinking about what they want to hear. (Our little industry would be transformed if stations followed that one tip, but I promised you 7).
  2. Unless people hear something they like when they tune in they won’t keep listening. Want fans? Be doing good stuff right when people tune in. (Bonus point: people tune in every minute of every hour of every day).  
  3. The easiest way to get more people to hear the good stuff is to repeat it. Want fans? Do the good stuff a lot.  
  4. People don’t factor in what you did three and a half hours ago. Or yesterday. They evaluate you based upon what you’re doing right now. Want fans? Be good right now.
  5. People like their favorite songs more than the ones that aren’t their favorites. Want fans? Play songs they love. (Bonus point: Play the ones they really love even more).  
  6. People will not listen to you talk about things they are not interested in. In a world of choice people choose, and they’ll choose to go away. Want fans? Be relevant.
  7. Our format is about the most important things in people’s lives. Want fans? Do stuff that matters.

That’s how radio works.

Now, has anyone seen my car keys?