You have to make a connection

A fellow nightclub DJ showed me a painting an artist had made of him years earlier. At the time Dave and I were working together at a club in Southend, and one night instead of going our separate ways he invited me to his home to chill down. It was there he showed me the painting; a microphone.

“That’s me,” he said.

Dave, who was about 10 years older than me saw the bemused look on my face. And before I could state the obvious (it’s a microphone), he pointed to the mic cable.

“Look, it’s cut in two,” he said. “I was a DJ and no one was listening. That’s how the artist saw me.”

It was Dave’s way of saying he had worked his way up from wannabe DJ to working in a top club and that it was tough to, as we say today “cut through”.

It was very late (or early), and a bit too deep for me – as a 20-something club and radio DJ who was going places in the brightly-coloured 80s. But the conversation, and the painting, have never left me.

Over the past 10 years I have started and stopped half a dozen podcasts and syndicated radio shows. And getting cut through today is tougher than it was in the 80s.

The streaming audio revolution has made it so easy for anyone to start a podcast or a digital radio station that many of us can understand the insight of the artist who captured Dave’s frustration.

We are out there doing it, but getting cut through to be heard against every other podcaster and broadcaster is a tough gig – perhaps the toughest.

Every one, it seems, is doing it – from the bedroom DJ to the powerful multi-national broadcasters.

So, how to connect the cable and make contact so you can be heard?

The trade off for not having a huge budget for a strong and ongoing marketing campaign is time. And that means you have to do what you are doing for longer to get listener numbers up. You have to keep being there, keep delivering and never let your audience down when they turn to listen to your broadcast.

This may mean you have to keep doing what you’re doing for two years or more, and that means you have to pace yourself, set mini goals and not expect the world within the next three months.

Build your station slowly and surely, and don’t waste time and effort telling fellow broadcasters about your station on the internet radio forums – they aren’t your audience.

People have so much choice if they just want to listen to music. Where there is a lack of choice is with radio presenters with real personality, who have something to say and are entertaining.

What’s lacking is a local voice sharing local information that’s useful to people living where you live.

Bottom line, to be a success, you have to make a connection.