Radio remote broadcasts used to be as common as hearing the Top 40 hits blaring from your speakers. Today, as audiences fragment and stations become more automated, people don't have the same chance to connect with announcers and stations. Strengthen your on-air skills by becoming a master of live radio broadcasts from outside your station's studio.
Plan Your Radio Remote Show
The best radio shows may seem spontaneous, but they require planning. That's especially true when you are broadcasting live from somewhere in the community.
If you'll be pulling up in a truck with your station's logo on the side and flipping a switch to go live, part of your work is finished. Otherwise, check your signal strength and have plenty of banners to showcase your appearance.
Remember that this is a chance for your loyal listeners to put a face with the voice they already know. Make sure your personal appearance reflects well on you and your station. Flip-flops and a faded t-shirt are probably what you wear around the station, but this is your chance to pull out the snakeskin boots and a cowboy hat if that suits your image and your radio format.
Repeat the Time and Place on the Air
This is one of the basic rules of any sales promotion, and it's also true of your radio remote. You need to mention the day, time and location of your broadcast a lot.
You'll want to promote your remote in the days leading up to it, including on your radio station website. That builds excitement and helps your audience remember to either listen or better yet, to stop by. On the day of your remote, you'll constantly have to remind people where you are.
You will quickly tire of saying, "I'll be at Lloyd's House of Wheels at 231 Main Street downtown from 2 until 5 Friday afternoon. Make sure to stop by and say 'Hi!'" every break of your shift for a week. But each time you say it, you're reaching new people and reinforcing the message that may otherwise be quickly forgotten.
Determine the Purpose of Your Remote
Most radio remotes fall into three categories -- an event for a sales client, publicity for a community event or a station promotion campaign. Each has its own requirements.
A sales client wants to build floor traffic or move merchandise. Building traffic is as easy as giving listeners a reason to visit, like getting to eat a free hot dog or register for a prize drawing. Moving merchandise calls for a consistent sales pitch repeated frequently.
Community outreach events are your chance to get people to join the crowds. Even if drizzle is falling at a charity walk, describe why this is the place to be.
Station promotion usually includes a giveaway or media contest. Build your station identity so that audience members know which station gave away $1,000.
Give Listeners a Way to Have Fun
Many of your listeners are in their cars on their way somewhere. Why should they take the time to stop at your radio remote? Giveaways are good, but having fun is better.
You can put yourself in a dunk tank, give people the chance to sing your station jingle live on the air or have them try to eat the world's spiciest buffalo wings. Think of a hook that gets people involved in something special.
If you think of a fun event that's unusual enough, you could even get coverage from a local newspaper or TV station. That's bonus publicity that benefits you, your station and the reason for your remote.
Meet Your Audience Face to Face
This is not the time for you to hide behind a microphone. Many broadcasters are fearless on the air, but fearful of interacting with people face to face. Overcoming that fear will boost your presence in the community.
Look people in the eye, shake their hands, ask their name and thank them for listening. You'll quickly forget these personal encounters. But those you meet may remember this day forever and the interest you took in their lives.
Make a big deal over the children you see. Kissing babies may be a politician's calling card, but you are also trying to win votes every time someone fills out a rating diary.
While you mention the client or community event endlessly and remind people that they're listening to "the all-new Q-102", take time to promote your own identity. If people walk away saying that "someone" from the radio station was at the county fair, you've wasted an opportunity to be a memorable radio personality.
Make sure your name appears somewhere that people can read it, preferably with your face next to it. Even better, have photos of yourself that you can autograph and hand out.
Here's another idea. Have someone take photos of you standing with listeners that can be printed instantly, then signed. Your fans will be more likely to hang onto a photo that has them standing next to their favorite announcer.
Stick Around After the Remote
Make a lasting impression from your radio remote after you go off the air. Typically, a popular announcer would be squealing his tires to leave. Thank everyone who helped. That may mean shaking the hands of everyone at a car dealership or hugging the sweaty organizers of a fun run, but it's time well spent.
If listeners are still dropping by to meet you, don't disappoint them. Let them know that you want to spend time with everyone.
These small gestures will hopefully make their way back to your station manager, who will appreciate that extra half-hour you took to boost the station. That's an easy way to increase your job security and maybe even get a pay raise in this uncertain time for radio and all media.