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John Frost “A Programming Lesson From the Solar Eclipse”

There was a total solar eclipse last Monday.  The first one since I was in college.  

It began in Oregon at 9:06 am pacific and ended in South Carolina at 4:06 pm eastern.  

Well, that’s one point of view.  

You see, a total solar eclipse is ALWAYS occurring SOMEWHERE in space.   All I’ve done is state three perspectives from North America.  

“Since I was in college” is a perspective relevant to only me.  No one else cares.  

“It begins in Oregon” is relevant only to Oregonians or those one million driving their Magic Buses through the Columbia River gorge to camp out and smoke, smoke, smoke their cigarettes. *Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen  

The people that care most about the eclipse are those directly along the path; Corvalis to Kansas City, Nashville to Greenville.  

Time magazine has a nifty little gizmo that shows how the solar eclipse will look from anywhere in the United States.  You simply enter your zip code and see what the eclipse will look like from where you are.  

What if we had an app for that?    

What if there was a nifty little gizmo where a listener could enter a code and our stations would immediately resonate with their life?  What if our stations resonated just a much with a seeker as someone deep in their faith?  I’m not suggesting changing the station’s purpose, mind you, but rather consider the ability to zoom that purpose directly into to people’s lives, like the way the eclipse resonates more with those along its path.  

I like Roy Williams’ perspective. 

“Have you ever used a zoom lens? Think of your brain as having one. As you zoom in, you exclude the context to focus on the tiniest details. But when you zoom out, you see those details fold in on themselves to reveal the ever-expanding context of the big picture.”  

When you discover that big picture you’ll discover the common ground to reach the largest possible audience. 

Ian: What did the sun say when it reappeared after an eclipse?

Angus: What?

Ian: “Pleased to heat you again.”

(Joke by Ian T., Acton, Mass.  Boyslife.org) 


On last week’s show I shared that the recent solar eclipse is a valuable lesson in perspective.  The moon’s path is always between the earth and the sun SOMEWHERE, but it becomes meaningful to us only when it happens to us.  

Ty McFarland of KSBJ in Houston reacted this way: 

Lesson 1-seeing things from your listener’s perspective requires you to change your perspective – that takes intentional time and effort

Lesson 2- once you spend that time and effort to share a common perspective, you’ll care a whole lot more since you’re invested—you’ve got some skin in the game. If you don’t care about what your listeners care about, the problem isn’t with your listeners!

I could easily stop there with Ty’s valuable insight, but since I’ve teased ‘part two’ I feel compelled to go there.  

What if your radio station could get ALL of your listeners to tune in at ONE time for ONE thing?   Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?   But that is the very thing that NASA gave us a glimpse of during the eclipse.   

NASA offered a means for anyone to gather data on how the eclipse changes the atmospheric conditions around them.   In other words, they offered a resource to get everyone to go to one place at one time for one thing.  

Reckon’ we can learn a lot just by looking up.  

*Inspired by Mark Ramsey’s “Seducing PPM; The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Ratings”  

John is a partner in Goodratings Strategic Services, and has been a successful major market disc jockey and program director for such companies as CBS, Cap Cities, Westinghouse, Sandusky, Gannett, and Alliance during his 38 year broadcast career.  John joined Goodratings’ partner Alan Mason in 1999. Contact John  at john@goodratings.com

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