Tuesday, February 15, 2011


I listen to a lot of radio on the weekends. All different formats. One thing is consistent, most remotes sound terrible. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with remotes. I think they are a great way to billboard your station, (as long as there are tons of banners and the vehicle is parked in a highly visible place) meet listeners and welcome new ones. Most PD’s despise remotes and consider them a tune out. I don’t agree. It’s the client’s :60 commercial. If you weren’t doing the remote break (where you have total control over what goes into that break) traffic would fill the :60 with something else. Most likely something you don’t have control over. Look at remotes as another :60 seconds that you can control. With proper guidance and coaching they don’t have to be a tune out. Here are some tips:

Keep the breaks at :60. Many jocks end up going 1:30 or longer. Unacceptable. If the client is paying for a :60, then that’s what they get. Get a timer for the jock.

Try not to do the breaks via cell phone. Take a laptop and do them in Audition then FTP them back to the station.

Edit the break down before it goes on the air. If you have to interview the client, edit them down and make sure it’s the best :60 seconds. Not only does this benefit the station, it also benefits the client.

Have the talent get there early and walk around the store. They should talk to the owner and get a feel for the business. Just like prepping for their show, they need to prep for the remote breaks. You can always tell when a jock doesn’t know much about the business. That’s when the rambling and clichés hit.

Speaking of clichés, avoid them at all costs. While there are many, here’s a few:
Come by and say hi (this is awful)
You can’t miss us (I recently heard this three times in the same break)
The deals are amazing/unbelievable (avoid hype, while the deals may be good, I’m sure they are not amazing or unbelievable)
We’ll be here until 2 (nobody cares)

Run a pre-produced open for the break voiced by your voice guy. Don’t let the in studio jock talk to the jock doing the remote on the air. That will only make the break longer (and only be entertaining to the two jocks).

Treat the remote break like a commercial. Run it first in the stop set. After all, you want listeners to show up. There’s a better chance of that happening if the break runs first in the stop set and not last. Remotes are a premium and should be treated as one.

If you have a street team/interns with you on location, don’t talk about them being there or put them on the air. Nobody cares.

Focus on the benefits for the listener. Keep the message focused and brief. Your job is to get people to stop by. You don’t do that with a laundry list of things going on. A long list doesn’t make it sound any more exciting. Things the listener cares about will make it more exciting. Find the biggest benefits and promote those.

Every remote should have a special that’s only available while the station is there. This will make the remote even more of a big deal. Work with the AE and the client to find something to promote or win.

Remotes don’t have to be a tune out. If you eliminate the negatives and focus on what makes them great, they can be a win-win for everyone. Put some time into improving your remotes and embrace them. Work with your AE and promotions department to make them special. Who knows, maybe your cume will increase AND you’ll help the bottom line.

1 comment:

  1. JP is spot on! This is Michael Blakeley, a 25-year radio guy who’s actually had the pleasure of working with John at a southwest Washington station for a few years. Since being a teenager, he has known what he wanted to do with his career, and is that guy who always seemed to “get it”, grow, and learn a year’s worth for every month… astounding everyone. So when John Paul says, “Something oughta’ be this way,” you had better believe it “oughta’”,

    Most PDs won’t even listen to a remote. (it’s not THEIR problem right?) Big mistake! PDs need to insure ALL John’s recommendations are adhered to… and more.

    1. The 60-second breaks are more than a good guideline… they’re perfect. With less time, you can’t set up the emotion to drive traffic in. Longer than :60 and Air Talent Guy feels the need to “fill”. (generally with clichés… yuk)
    2. Audio quality is a huge factor for “tune-outs”. Cell phones, though convenient, are lousy on the air. Using cells while equipped with Blue Tooth are even worse. Many stations today are “live” on multiple stations, so an engineer records them into a cart-cell back at the station anyway, for playback in a few minutes. So why not record into a laptop and upload the break? Why not edit the break before doing so? After all, it’s a commercial, and it’s the most expensive commercial you sell… so make it sound better with some on-the-spot editing before uploading. You’d do the same with any prod back at the station, right?
    3. A talent not prepping for the remote by showing up early and asking questions is like a jock showing up to do a show with NONE show prep. We don’t want to sound lame, begging the listener to “Come on down”. This isn’t the Price is Right! The AE also needs to be there early… AT EVERY REMOTE… with prepared notes of items of interest to cover, and possible people to interview. If you DO interview, you also need to prep that person before the break, so that they know you where intend for the break to go. And that brings up the most important point…

    Remotes DO NOT have to be tune-outs. They are special events and if treated as such… can be a lot of fun for the listener as well as those present. It’s all about the show and presentation! If you do a proper job of acting as the listener’s eyes-and-ears-over-the-radio to this fun event… he’ll want to come see for himself!