Focus out, not in…

I have long believed in the basic goodness of most people. I believe most of us want to do good. I believe most of us want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, and feel as if we are helping those less fortunate than us. But I’m aware of the trap of empathy — condescension.

We think we understand how others feel, but many times we actually don’t. We put our life experiences into our evaluations of how others feel.

The best way to avoid the trap is to learn as much as possible about those we are speaking to on our stations. Unfortunately, most radio stations are not allowed to do perceptual research these days, much less listener research that delves into feelings about their personal lives and struggles.

Listener panels are a great resource. I’d hold at least one a quarter. They’re easy to set up, fun to be a part of, a perceived stroke by those invited, and can be a source of real information if you moderate them properly.

Frankly, It seems like most stations are more interested in how listeners feel about them than they are in learning how listeners feel about their own lives and what’s happening around them. The more you know about the latter, the better you can shape on-air content to be relevant to what they want and need. It is about them, after all.

Which is why this recent report from MediaPost is worth your time.

In times as difficult as these, empathy requires knowledge and then understanding — understanding that basic values are a part of most of your listeners’ lives and beliefs: God, family, hard work, commitment, love, patriotism, sacrifice, hope…prayer.


How often does your talent make these values part of their content? I’d love to hear samples if you have time to send them.