And it can happen for you too.
Thankfully, in a few hours, this election will be behind us.
If you’re anything like me, you want to blot out every sordid, negative memory but…before you do, consider this: Donald Trump succeeded far beyond everyone’s expectation, including his own.
How did that happen?
Asking supporters in the huge crowds he attracted at every campaign stop, there was a common theme:
“He’s saying what I’m thinking…”
“He understands what I’m feeling…”
“Finally, someone is saying what I want to hear!”
“He’s honest and speaks his mind, even if it gets him in trouble.” *
I remember listeners in focus groups saying the same things, using almost the same words, about Howard Stern in the 1980s.
Stern became massively popular — and rich — by thumbing his nose at management, by saying (seemingly) whatever was on his mind, by talking about things no one else on the radio dared to talk about.
So, clearly there’s a way to grab listeners and turn them into fans without threatening our democracy and without humiliating large swaths of them. Stern did it.
It’s not for every format, or even every air talent.
But we all need the reminder that we’re in the entertainment business.
It’s about grabbing attention in an age when we have more distractions and more alternatives than at any previous time in history.
You won’t get that by being meek and mild and safe.
Like him or not, and a huge number of people don’t like him, Trump seemed to understand quickly that his unpredictability, his outspokenness — his “act” — garnered massive attention and, surprisingly for many pundits, created deep loyalty among his fan base.
Americans may decide today that we need more than entertainment value and vulgarities in our President but that won’t dilute his brand in the eyes of his supporters.
Remember: In branding, it’s better to be loved by 40% of your market, and disliked by the other 60%, than it is to be merely tolerated. (Think Jeb Bush or Mitt Romney.)
It’s the same for you and your station.
You’ve got to be willing to be different from every other air talent to be loved in our business.
You’ve got to offer something no one else in your town offers.
You don’t need to be hateful or racist or misogynistic. You don’t have to mock the disabled. You don’t need to be intentionally offensive.
You’ve got to risk failure.
Lasting brands generate passion.
What does your station do to generate passion?
What do you do?
When can we start?
*all quotes from the Washington Post