PD Derrick Scott
Regardless of the station format, I've often heard Program Directors and Music Directors say, "It's only the weekend...." I'm here to argue that weekends are just as important as some weekday dayparts, as they help set the tone for the upcoming week.
If your weekends are hot, hopefully the listeners will keep the radio on. When they turn it off, the dial's already set on your station for the start of the week, and your big morning show. Put in as much effort ensuring the flow of music on the weekend, if you're a Music Director editing your music logs, and make sure your mix is just as great as it would be during the week.
From a promo -- and program -- point of view, you should make sure that your station is consistent, but that it is also special, offering listeners rewards for tuning in at any time. If yours is a prize-driven station during the week, why wouldn't you be prize-driven on the weekend? Build your station with "Win It Before You Can Buy It" or "Winning Weekends" promotions.
On the programming side, there are so many "specials" you can offer your listeners -- none of which are 100% original, but what is? You can take something done in the past and make it your own.
I'm a big fan of theme weekends. They allow you to add something special to your Saturday and Sundays, plus at times create the "Oh, Wow!" factor with songs that may not get played as often. If you have the ability, do theme weekends all year-round. But how can you make them your own? Rather than having the Music Director or Program Director pick the songs or use some list you found on the 'Net, have your listeners pick the songs, possibly online by using your website.
Recently, here in Kingston, we counted down the Top 40 bands from the 80s, 90s, Anything, based on votes from our Web club members. The listeners get a real sense of ownership when they "program" the show. Let's face it: it's not our station, it's their station.
If you can add some prize give-aways, and turn those listeners into winners, as a tie-in to your theme weekend, even better! If you're doing a countdown, give listeners an opportunity to win CDs from each group on the countdown. If one of your core artists is celebrating a birthday over the weekend, do a theme weekend based on their music and give away copies of their greatest hit CDs or DVDs.
Not all stations can be live and local on the weekend. A lot of stations run specialty programming like AT 40, and Leeza, which tend to do very well ratings-wise.
Rather than always focusing on "syndicated shows" do you run a local countdown, or specialty show featuring your morning team? If it's a countdown, again, let you listeners help put it together with votes through your web site. If it's a specialty show like, all 80s, classic rock leaning, you can have your morning talent do it, or get a local celebrity to voice it.
Some stations don't have the man power or capabilities to put together local specialty programming and have to run with syndication, but that shouldn't stop us from adding local and who we are. Instead of going from the syndicated show into spots, can you get the host of the show to voice station IDs, or better yet have them promote giveaways, or events coming up in the show? For the most part companies that syndicate shows are sensitive to the fact that stations want to have as much local ownership on the shows, and will help out as much as possible.
Another way to make a "syndicated show" yours is to add a local feature to the existing. Is there a way that you can use some of the local available time to add in a "today in music history" voiced by one of your talents and feature a song? Or even an events calendar, local concert listing? What some stations do is run pre-recorded "jock talk" on upcoming giveaways, and/or featured on the show. It makes them a part of the same show you can hear on thousands of stations around the world.
We cannot add time checks to specialty shows, but something that may be more important on the weekend is weather. If you have someone in your newsroom, maybe from your newstalk station, could they not do updated weathers every hour with a current temperature, and possibly a time check?
If you're doing something unique to make your station even more special on the weekend, let me know, and maybe we'll share it in an upcoming Last Word.
Derrick Scott is currently Program Director and On Air Personality at Kingston's Oldies 960, 96.3 JOE-FM. Prior to that, he spent eight years with Corus Entertainment Cornwall, as PD for Variety 104.5. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org