Ted Called the show which had started a little late today because of a report I developed on the value of the Math and Literacy programs in the Saranac Lake Central School. He says he wants more people to call, and the regulars, etc…
Karen called and she says Talk of the Town should be named Ted’s Talk Show and then I could put it on whenever I want and people won’t be waiting for talk of the town to come on because they don’t get enough time to call in. She says she would prefer more time for people to call. Today’s program brings a few ideas to mind;
One: Currently the program airs from 8:49am until 9am which tends to give everyone who wants to call the program an opportunity to call and speak their minds. If there are more callers, I will typically avoid playing the commercials which are scheduled to air in that time slot. If not, I will typically air a commercial which usually sparks the phones to become active again.
Two: Karen brought to my attention two issues; First that people may want to call and not be engaged but just make comments on things that are happening in the community or complain about a particular issue, or chime in on a political candidate; Second that because I’m talking people may believe that they can’t call, or their calls won’t be answered.
Three: The program creates an interesting paradigm because if there isn’t much activity on the lines, I personally believe that the station should engage in it’s own conversation with a particular topic or concept. The topic could be one that I’ve been covering during the morning or another topic relative to the day. This “Shift” to my engaging in a “Talk of the Town” style conversation as though I was calling in, occurs when the phones are light and may indeed create the illusion that I’m trying to “Take Over” and should “Allow” more people to get on the show. Not only do I take all of the calls – very close to when they come in, but I also regularly adjust the commercial load to manage the time so that if there are a lot of callers, we can attempt to get in as many as possbile..
Four: Were I less inclined to pick a topic and simply wait for a caller thereby continuing to mention the phone number and asking people to call, two outcomes will arise. The first, that listeners will call and engage the program which happens about 40% of the time and the second that the phone remains inactive. In the event the phone remains inactive, there has to be a fall back plan – unless you’re really suggesting that I just ask people to call for 12 minutes instead of re-engaging the conversation along a topic of discussion relevant to those who always listen but are not inclined to participate. It is my belief that most of our audience falls into the “Actively listening for other people to call” category. which brings us back to the paradigm in concept number three.
Five: In all cases during times when there are large issues to be discussed, a much larger percentage of our audience will call, and I try to accomodate as many as possible in these situations. If you hear a longer conversation with a caller, it’s because I don’t have anyone waiting on one of the rollover lines.. Ironically, in some cases, someone will call, I will end the previous conversation to take the next call, and the complaint will be from the latest caller that I’m spending too much time talking with the prior person. My question becomes; why should I rush someone off the air if there’s no one waiting in the que?
When I took over last year we tried a concept which included naming Tuesday – Tirade Tuesday – so that peole knew they could call and complain.. back then, the timing was a little too soon to attempt to create this type of conversation so it was scrapped in favor of a more recent version of the program. The real question in the current version of the program is when to start? Start too early, the topic runs dry, start too late people call and complain.. (As opposed to calling a little earlier into the show and discussing a topic that afects them) I’ve settled on 7:48 as a comfortable time for the show to begin, not only because it allows for an additional story after the weather at 7:45, but also, in many cases, it’s local and could spark some interest in Talk of the Town, but doesn’t require my proposing the issue as a topic.
I think there may be a solution to this question of perception and I think we can definately experiment with a “Retro” version of the show. In addition, I would be happy to avoid comment on that day so that if there are people who don’t want to be engaged, they can know I will simply thank them for calling and go to the next call.. Before Talk of the Town on Monday, I will propose the concept of bringing back a special Tuesday edition of Talk of the Program. Where we plan to ask for calls, make no comments, and attempt to avoid any suggestions for topics, except to explain the concept to everyone.. and sometimes when you’re talking to 30,000 people, it’s tough to find a concensus so perhaps a weekly “Retro” edition of the program on Tuesday will give us both sides of the spectrum.
So – Plan to be at a phone for Talk of the Town on Tuesday and I will take calls without engaging or commenting and we’ll try that for a month and re-visit the question after that… Now the only question is “How do we differentiate Tuesday from the rest of the week”
Tirade Tuesday? or simply “Tuesday’s Talk of the Town?” tune in Monday for the answer.. Still working on a naming concept – and if you’d like to be a sponsor, we could name it after you.. How about “Tail of the Pup Tuesday” or “Tucker Farms Tuesday”