Cutting through the clutter

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We live in an over-communicated world. Each day, the average person is exposed to 18,000 marketing messages. Whether that message is a commercial, a branded segment, a billboard or commentary, everything is a message.
A great radio coach and messaging genius, Nick Michaels (, once told me that all messages move through a triangle. The top of the triangle is information, the bottom left point is entertainment and the bottom right is relevancy.
Many of us in radio spend our time trying to dispense info to our listeners like a general talking to a subordinate, or we spend time trying to be 100 percent entertaining. We all have fallen into one of these roles in one way or another. “Listen to WXXX, because we are the station that rocks” or “Trust in KXXX.” Does the audience really need to be commanded to listen or instructed to trust?
However, good radio focuses on being relevant.
Every day, we make decisions about what is relevant and what is noise. We all have internal spam filters. Crafting your message to focus on the deepest hopes, wants and fears of your audience will enable two things. First, it creates a customize vehicle to deliver information. Second, it forces one to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the audience. Not the traditional general-talking-to-the-private scenario.
Nick Michaels did a radio billboard for KFI in Los Angeles after 9/11 that said: “Cindy is afraid. Every day Cindy drops her kid off at school, looks into her eyes and wants to know what’s next? That is why Cindy listens to KFI.”
This was brilliant. After 9/11, everyone was afraid. The message tapped into the fear everyone was feeling. The audience wanted to know how they could benefit from Cindy’s fear: “Wow, Cindy listens to KFI.”
This is a perfect example of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the audience, cutting through the clutter and delivering a message that is personal.
With every radio commercial, billboard, bit, interview or commentary, ask yourself this one question: “How do I make this relevant to my audience?”
When you start with that one question, you are on the path to great radio.♦
A member since 2003, Chandler van Voorhis is a manager of C2I, LLC and a founding member of Tender Biomass Supply, LLC. He was also co-host of GreenWave radio and recipient of the Chevron Texaco Conservation Award. Contact him at

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