In radio, we take a lot of things for granted. We assume listeners know more about us than they do. It’s generally accepted that those who come to see us at promotions and events are just “prize pigs” And we are annoyed by listeners who call the radio station. All of those are dangerous! Customer service matters, and a simple way to serve your audience is to answer the phone.

I walked into the studio to say hello to the morning show of one of my clients. A song was playing, and the digital clock was counting down, indicating a little over 2 minutes before the next break.

All three cast members looked like beavers building a dam. They were scrambling. Each was clearly busy and absorbed in their screens. I almost exited because I didn’t want to distract them before the segment.

But then I realized that all the activity in the room had nothing to do with the show. Nobody was talking to each other. They were all absorbed in their own world. And four phone lines were blinking, but nobody would answer the phone.

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One was on their computer. Another on a mobile phone, and the third on an iPad. The producer? Must have been out getting coffee. I couldn’t find her. Seeing how busy they were, I said a quick hello, and told them I’d see them right after the show, then pointed out that the phones were lit up.

They thanked me, and immediately put all the lines on hold.

I left the studio just in time for one of the sloppiest, poorly planned, uninspired break I’ve heard in some time. In our meeting, I asked what happened. They were all working hard…on something! But it wasn’t that break.

The host was responding to a listener’s comment on Facebook.

Cohost #1? Sending a tweet on a topic unrelated to the show’s content.

It turned out that cohost #2 was responding to an email from the sales manager about a promotional appearance for the weekend.

And the producer? She wasn’t sure what the next break was about, so she had gone to the show’s office to check the daily planner. While there, she checked her emails and was responding to a question from her boyfriend about their plans for that night. It took a little longer than she expected. But, she reminded me, “I was back before the song ended.”

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She didn’t think it was important to answer the phone. Or be prepared.

The Show Is Always On

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