Many of you are too young to remember the classic cartoon Underdog. Check it out sometime. Yeah, a little cheesy, but awesome. And some good lessons for radio performers.

Underdog was the scrappy hero, always fighting against odds to save the day. The superhero was a humble shoeshine boy. But once there was a call for help, Underdog emerged.

As a kid, I cheered for Underdog because he was an underdog. Audiences love being part of a movement, especially when there’s a relatable hero.

Audiences love the underdog going through a struggle. Indiana Jones, Han Solo, Rocky, Rudy, The Cubs. They cheer and care when you show your sincere vulnerabilities.

Manage it properly and a personality can aggregate the audience around a brand. This can become a powerful force. It’s one thing to become popular with listeners. It’s quite another to build a community of fans that proudly identify with the brand.

This isn’t new. Legendary brands often build loyalty by causing their fans to self-identify with their brand values. You’ve seen it. Think of Jimmy Buffet’s Parrot Heads and Apple Fan Boys proudly displaying the logo on their vehicles. The same type of affection is earned by Nike, Harley-Davidson, Tesla and many others.

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Those are now very large, well known brands, but they weren’t always like that. Their tories are rooted in being a small, loyal core of passionate fans fighting against the odds.

Some radio stations and shows have built the same kind of cult-like following. Jeff & Jer had their 11 Listeners, Dave Smiley created Smiley Heads, Mikey (San Diego) had his P1 Army and Rick Dees once led a Cast of Idiots. There are more, for sure.

How to Build a Community of Fans: An Underdog Story

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