Taco Bell Commercial (Woman)

Doc:  You seem to be able to find the names of people in commercials, so I have one for you.  There is a new Taco Bell commercial that shows a blonde woman at a party.  She tells a guy to call her, so he calls her immediately on his cell phone.  I'm not sure if you have seen the commercial, but I would really like to know her name. Thanks in advance. - Anonymous


Anon: Yes, I have seen that commercial, and the woman's name is Andrea Bogart—click here for more information.

(I Don't) Take Myself Too Seriously

Doc, I have observed many “wise” people often say they don’t take themselves too seriously (referring to one of your previous answers).  I want to be “wise,” so, what are the signs that you are taking yourself too seriously and what’s the principle of knowing when you are and when you do not?


Is there a gauge for “self-seriousness?”  What effective thought or saying should I remember so I could avoid this pitfall?  Thanks for the enlightenment. - Anonymous


Anon:  I’ll address each question separately. 



The word “wise” means something different to each person.  You may perceive a person as wise, but someone else may perceive the same person as dumb (or some other antonym).  I think most people have an image in their mind of a wise person—usually an older person who seems to have the answer for almost everything; a person you can go to for advice, counsel, and direction.  Although you didn’t define the term, my guess is that my description may be close to your definition.


But I may be wrong, so let’s use a typical dictionary definition of wise, which is: “Marked by deep understanding, keen discernment, and a capacity for sound judgment.”  A few synonyms for wise include—advised, all-knowing, considered, diplomatic, judicious, sage, sensible, and well-advised.


So, you want to become that.  Hmm.  I don’t know if being wise is something you can decide to be.  In other words, you can decide to learn a foreign language, drive a truck, or become a radio DJ, but I don’t know if you can “decide” to be wise.  I’m not sure if a person has the power to decide if he/she has the capacity for “deep understanding, keen discernment, and sound judgment.”


But let’s assume that you do have such power.  If so, what you need to have, I believe, is an intense desire to learn things—all types of things.  In addition, I believe you need to have the ability to synthesize information…the ability to put a lot of related (and seemingly unrelated) information together to produce a coherent whole—to “see the big picture.”  People who can synthesize information can “see” the consequences of certain ideas or actions—if this happens (or these things happen), then this will happen.  Understand what I mean?


I’m not talking about a psychic, fortune teller, or tarot card reader.  That’s pseudoscience.  I’m referring to a person who can “walk-through” the steps of a decision or action before the decision or action is made.


So you want to be wise?  Learn things.  Learn how things work alone and together.  Probably most important is to observe very closely other people you consider as wise.  What do they do?  How do they approaches questions and problems?  Watch them closely.


Take too Seriously

I’m sure people could debate forever the meaning of, “I don’t take myself too seriously.”  However, in my opinion, which may be wrong, “too seriously” relates to ego and self-aggrandizement (self-centeredness, egocentricity, self-absorption).


The people who take themselves “too seriously” are those who are usually labeled a “braggart,” “a pain in the neck,” or an “egotist.”  Whenever someone states an idea, fact, or opinion, the “too seriously” person always seems to try to “one-up” the person by saying something like, “Oh, that’s nothing, I remember when…”  Or, “You may be right, but if you consider another…”).  The “too seriously” person always has the answer and is always willing to present it.


People who say, “I don’t take myself too seriously” are just the opposite.  They “walk softly and carry a big stick.”  They know things and/or have specific talents and skills, but don’t brag about them.  They don’t think they’re cool (better than others) because of their knowledge or talents.  They know (do) what they know (do) and don’t make a big deal about it.


You ask, “…what are the signs that you are taking yourself too seriously and what’s the principle of knowing when you are and when you do not?”  I believe the “signs” come from other people.  If people avoid you or maybe exclude you from discussions and other activities, you may look at what you’re doing or saying.  You are probably a pain in the neck.  The “effective thought or saying” you should remember is…”People don’t like a ‘know-it-all.”


And that’s how your two questions tie together.  You can be a wise person who is liked and respected, or you can be a wise person who is detested.  Learn things and how things are related, but don’t force your knowledge on others.  Don’t radiate the feeling, “Hey, dig me.”  (That’s a 60s/70s term, sorry)—“Walk softly and carry a big stick.”

Talent Critique

Hi Dr. Wimmer: Just wondering . . . What is the best way to critique talent? - Anonymous


Anon: What I have seen work the best is to have an established set of guidelines that you have developed from listener information (from a perceptual study), your ideas, and/or talent input.  The list may include about 10 items and are rated (by you) on a 1-10 scale, where 1 means "Poor," 10 means "Excellent," and 2 through 9 are in-between.


In addition, you would probably want to include a few other items such as punctuality, following radio station guidelines and policies, and ability to communicate with the target audience.


Whatever you use, it should be an established list of items.  This allows the talent (and you) to easily determine which areas are good and which areas need work.


I have conducted many perceptual studies for PDs that have included a list of items the listeners think are most important in reference to radio station talent.  The listeners rate each item on a 1-10 scale, and the highest rated items are then used for talent critiques.  The process works very well because the personalities know that the elements are coming from the listeners, not just the PD.


Did you say that listeners do not consider it too much talk if a jock says the call letters, moniker, or frequency? - Anonymous


Anon: Yes, in all formats. Other things include artists’ names and song titles, time mentions, and weather reports and forecasts.

Talk about Songs

I have heard a few people bash jocks who talk about Country songs and explain the story behind them.  I think it adds a nice element to the show with the right song to talk about, yet they seem to disagree.  What’s your take on this?  Thanks! - Anonymous


Anon:  Hey, good question.  Although I have addressed this question in research projects over the years, I don’t think anyone has asked this question since I started the column in 2000.


First, my take doesn’t make any difference.  The “take” that is important is from the listeners.  Second, I don’t know who is “bashing” jocks who talk about the songs.  It sounds as though “they” (as you call them) are giving personal opinions, not the opinions of the listeners.


So what do the listeners say?  I’ll tell you what many listeners have said, but you need to check with your own listeners to verify the information.


In many perceptual studies and focus groups with listeners in all formats, most listeners say they like information about the songs they hear—the “story behind the songs” as you say.  They like to know who wrote the songs, if the songs have a special meaning or story, and other tidbits of information such as guest musicians who performed in a song.


If you check with your listeners, I’m sure you’ll find that the people you call “they” are wrong.

Talk in the Morning

Doctor!  I just moved to a market where my commute is super long.  As I entertain myself in traffic with the radio, I noticed that I gravitate towards NPR and morning shows with interesting conversations.  Yet on the way home in the afternoon, I constantly find myself searching for great music.


Obviously, I am not alone as most of radio is programmed with that mentality in mind.  I’ve heard the “people want companionship” and “knowing that the world didn’t end” reasons, but I don’t think I fall into those types of categories.  So why do I unknowingly gravitate towards talk over music in the morning? - Anonymous


Anon:  Your question reminds me of a line from a play that goes something like this… “You knew that I knew that you knew that we were meant for each other.”  To paraphrase that line, I’m fairly sure that I know that you know that I don’t know why you do what you do.  I’m not a psychic, so I can only guess based on what I have seen in research in the past 30 years or so.


Here is what I know that you should know…

  1. Interest in anything changes with age.  When it comes to radio, there is correlation between age and a desire for information (and conversation) in morning show radio.  Younger people tend to want more music in the morning; older people tend to want more talk and information in the morning.

  2. Why?  The information I have seen shows that younger people aren’t as interested in knowing things (the world didn’t end last night) as older people.  This doesn’t mean that young people don’t want information.  It means that their priorities are different from older people.  (When my youngest son, Buckwheat, was in his teens, I asked him why he didn’t read the newspaper, listen to radio news, or watch TV news.  He said, “If something big happens, I assume you will tell me about it.”….There ya go.)

  3. Most research shows that many people have different priorities in the afternoon and their interest in talk and information changes.  Many people tend to listen to music in the afternoon drive as a way to relax, forget about the work day, or segue from the work to the non-work environment.  (This does change if a significant event happened during the day that they need to know about.)

  4. You may think you don’t fall into one of the categories you mentioned.  However, I think that you know that I know that you know that you really do—at least a subcategory of one of the reasons you mention.

Talk Over Music

Hi Roger, Arthur from Perth, Western Australia.  I’m back from 5 weeks’ holiday and I missed you (sniffle!)  Catching up with your topics while I’ve been away.  Interesting topic, talking over the intro of songs.  I agree with your research.  A related question—What has been your experience/findings of playing short (3-5 sec) cold-voice station sweepers/liners over the intros of songs? - Arthur


Arthur:  Nice to hear from you again and thanks for the comment.  I hope you had a good time during your 5 weeks off.


Over the years, I have tested talking over music many, many times.  Most of this research consists of playing variations of the approach to listeners and asking them to rate each approach.  In every case, the approaches that receive the highest ratings (like most) are where the talking stops and the music starts or the music stops and the talking starts.


This is true regardless of the content of the talk—call letters mentions, sweepers, liners, and miscellaneous comments by the jock.  Listeners like music and they like talk (to some degree), but they don’t like talk—talk of any kind—over music.  This is true in all formats and in all age groups.

Talk Over Music Again

Doc:  I have a special problem related to an old question.  I'm currently working in Asia on an English FM.  The format is 30+ Adult AC/Smooth Jazz.


I am trying to find the proper research regarding listeners' feelings about talking over the music.  Some of our air staff continue to ride the faders up and down talking over the music.  My history tells me that given the adult format this is not a positive delivery.


Do you have any comments or can you direct me to any research on this subject.   Regards. - TP, ASIA


TP:  The first thing I would say to the jocks who talk over the music is, "Don't make me come out there."  The second thing is . . .


There are very few "laws" or fundamental operating guidelines in radio programming because there are so many variables involved in the business—things like music, talk, non-music elements, commercials, promos, and more.  A combination of all those variables that works for one radio station may not work for another radio station in the same city or in another market.  That's why it's important to find out what your listeners want so you can give it to them.


However, since 1976, I have learned that there are a few programming elements (or approaches) that can be considered as programming "laws" or "fundamental rules."  One of them is—Don't talk over the music.  I don't know how many thousands of radio research projects I have conducted since 1976, but in all those project I have always seen "Don't talk over the music" named by listeners as one of the most important elements in a radio station's programming and/or formatics approach.


There are no exceptions to this "law" or "rule."  It is true for all formats, both sexes, all ages, and all markets in the United States as well as several countries outside the United States where I have conducted radio research.  Listeners are very specific in their comments about mixing talk and music.  They say that if there is talk that is relevant to them, they want to listen to the jock talking and nothing else.  On the other hand, if there is music, they want to hear music, and nothing else.  In other words, they don't want a jock talking over the music.  Case closed.  No exceptions.  It's a "law" or "rule" according to listeners, and it is virtually a universal demand.


What happens if a radio stations breaks the "law" or "rule?"  The listeners say they listen less to the radio station, go to another radio station, or turn the radio off.  Talking over the music is that big of a deal to listeners and a radio station that breaks the "law" or "rule" is considered sub-standard (or something similar).


In summary, I have asked listeners about talking over the music in focus groups, perceptual studies, and even with audio examples, and the answer is always the same—Don't talk over the music.  It's one of the few things listeners say they hate about listening to music radio stations.  HATE, not dislike.  So why do it?


I hope that's enough information, but if you need more to convince the jocks who are turning listeners away from the radio station, please let me know.


By the way, another programming "law" or " rule" is telling the artists' names and song titles for music played.  Everything I mentioned about talking over the music is also relevant to this element.  Radio stations that don't say the artists' names and song titles are deliberately restricting the size of the audience.  Virtually all radio listeners HATE IT when radio stations don't say the artists' names and song titles.

Talk Radio Research

Hi, Doc. Best regards from sunny Costa Rica.  I can find many articles about music research and music radio stations in general, but what kind of research methodology is used to create successful Talk Radio? - Anonymous


Anon:  Nice to hear from you and I'm happy to learn that it's sunny in Costa Rica.  On to your question . . .


Excluding music testing, the research methodologies for Talk Radio stations is virtually the same as the methodologies used for music radio stations (focus groups, telephone perceptual studies, etc.).  However, as you might expect, there are some significant differences in reference to the types of questions asked in Talk Radio research.  Instead of music questions, there are usually several sections on talk show topics, talk show hosts, and other things.  I have conducted research for Talk Radio stations since about 1982, and it took about 15 years (with the help of an expert News/Talk PD and an expert News/Talk consultant) to develop a valid and reliable research approach, specifically in reference to perceptual studies.


With that said, the goals of Talk Radio research are the same as for any other type of radio station:  (1) Find out what the listeners want; (2) Give it to them; and (3) Tell them that you gave it to them.

Talk Show Advertising

I work for a News/Talk radio station and we have several talk shows on the air. Should we advertise and promote the station as a whole or should we highlight specific talk shows?" - Anonymous

Anon: I suggest that you follow the procedure used by TV networks. They advertise and promote the network as well as individual programs.

If you just advertise that you have "talk shows," there may be many people who won’t understand what you mean. Talk shows about what? However, if you advertise a specific talk show or talk show host/team, then you’re providing more specific information to the listeners.

Talk Show Content

We're a big-signal heritage AM News/Talker (Top 70 market in the Midwest).  I'd like your thoughts on how we can attract younger listeners (the 35-45 age cell . . . we're very strong 45+) while still respecting the "family station" vibe.  Can we be hip without getting in the gutter and selling out to potty talk?  I know this is a big topic, but more than a few folks in this business are looking for some ideas.  - Anonymous


Anon: I'm not sure how long you have been reading this column, but if it has been a while, you won't be surprised to hear me say that the answer to your question can only come from the 35-45 year old listeners in your market.  In other words, you'll have to do a research project to find out.  I don't know of anyone on this planet who can answer your question without such information.  If someone does tell you what to do based on his or her experience in other markets, the information isn't valid.


With that said, here are a few things to consider . . .


One.  You know as well as I do that younger people aren't predisposed to listening to AM radio stations because they grew up with FM.  But don't let that discourage you.  If you provide the content the listeners want to hear, they will tune to AM radio.


Two.  The general perception by many radio people is that in order to attract younger listeners to a News/Talk radio station, the content must be, as you say, "potty talk."  That's incorrect.  Not all younger people are interested in hearing obscene language and talk about sex.  That's why you need to find out what these people want to hear.


Three.  Assuming that you will conduct a perceptual study, don't screen only for people who currently listen to AM radio.  You must include respondents who might listen if the AM radio station provides something they want to hear.


Four.  Your situation isn't unique.  I have been conducting research for AM News/Talk radio stations since about 1982, and I know it's possible to attract a younger audience.  But the only way to do this is to ask them what they want to hear.  I could give you a few research examples, but they are meaningless since your market is unique.


Five.  Don't forget about marketing.  Once your radio station is "tweaked" to reach younger listeners, you must have a lot of exposure to let them know what you have done.


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