Make Humor the Primary Content Thrust of the Morning Show?

“Make humor the primary content thrust of the morning show.” How many times we’ve read those exact words when reviewing other research companies’ perceptual studies when we’re taking on new perceptual clients. More than one research company out there makes that recommendation repeatedly. And, on the one hand, why wouldn’t they? Many of the most successful morning radio shows are founded on humor. But, on the other hand, imagine being morning talent receiving that note: be funnier.

Humor is deceiving. It sounds so easy to do when you hear it done well. But, think about the large number of person-hours from hungry, highly-talented young people that go into an episode of Saturday Night Live – and now think about how many of their bits miss the mark.

Funny isn’t easy. Funny is hard work. Funny takes commitment and person-hours. Funny means a team of people on-air and off to develop the content, assemble the needed production elements and rehearse the execution. Funny means the dedication to write, assemble and/or produce great material every day – and have the critical judgment to know when to bail on a bit that just didn’t work as planned or found an inspiration in an on-air moment that’s better than anything planned.

Funny costs money. Producer, writers, cast members to serve key roles, outside resources. It all adds up. Building a marquee-value humor-driven morning show is a huge budgetary commitment and it tends to take a minimum of 18 months for a new morning show to start finding its audience and generating the desired ratings lift.

Funny is risky. Even if you put the R-rated content that’ll get you in trouble with the FCC off limits, there are still the possibilities of some bit, joke or remark along the way running afoul of the sensibilities of a valued client. And, even with the best coaches, consultants and guidance out there, you can still be chasing a flop after being patient for a couple of years.

Sure, many managers would like to find and develop the next Kidd Kraddick/Rick Dees/Howard Stern/Elvis Duran – the ratings and revenue rewards can be immense. But, do you really need a perceptual study to tell you that funny morning shows can generate ratings?

At NuVoodoo, our clients come to us looking for answers to the questions that keep them awake at night concerning how to move their stations to the next level or regain former success. In today’s environment they’re not looking for what might pay dividends two years down the road. They’re looking for how to impact the next 12 monthlies, starting as soon as possible. That’s why we build our perceptual studies to uncover actionable intelligence to move clients ahead – and why we don’t have boilerplate. (And why we don’t tell every AC client to drop the 80’s and focus on the 90’s and today.)