Friday, March 14, 2008

Localizing Syndicated Programming

Having spent over eight years working for a radio syndicator (Premiere Radio Networks), I have to admit that I have a strong opinion or two about how best to localize syndicated programming. Or rather, I have a strong opinion or two about localizing syndicated programming, period. As in, you should do it. A lot.

Most Country radio stations run at least some syndicated programming. Maybe it’s a countdown show, maybe it’s a specialty show, maybe it’s sports, maybe it’s a full shift five or more days a week, and maybe it’s all that and more. Whatever it is, it’s a real part of your station and you need to pay attention to it. And since this is just you and me talking, level with me. When was the last time you had new liners cut for your syndicated shows? Was it more recently than you’ve had a haircut? More recently than you’ve been to the dentist? More recently than you’ve had your tires rotated? More recently than you’ve had your house painted? No matter what your teeth look like, if it’s been more than six months since you’ve had new liners cut, it’s time to get cracking.

Your syndicator(s) should have a list of “their” fill-in-the-blank liners that you can use, but don’t be afraid to ask for “your” liners to be cut, too. You know what’s best for your station. Also, as contradictory as this might sound, even though I think you should spend time on these liners, be careful about making any of the liners (“yours” or “theirs”) stick out too much. It’s actually a lot like the imaging that you run during the rest of your day/week: That brilliant sweeper that you wrote 10 months ago was great the first couple of times you ran it. Now, it’s just tired. The same thing applies to liners.

Once you’ve taken care of the liners -- until it’s time for your next dentist appointment -- take a look at your website. Do you have your syndicated show(s) listed somewhere on there? If not, why not? If they’re on the air, they should be on your website. (And by all means have some of your liners direct listeners to your website.) While you’re checking that out, take a moment to make sure you spell the names/shows correctly. Assuming you have them on your site, take a look at the pictures and biographies you’re using and compare those with the most recent ones provided by your syndicator. Are you using up-to-date material? Actually, you should do this with all of your talent photos and biographies.

Finally, do your listeners a favor and take a look at your syndicated music logs and compare them to your local music logs. (If, because of time zones or anything else, you’re not sure which hour is YOUR first hour and which hour is YOUR last hour, ask your syndicator.) If you see that your listeners are going to hear the same songs and/or artists too short of a time frame, adjust your music so that everything flows nicely.

If you keep an eye on these basics, your local programming and your syndicated programming will live together in peace and harmony.