Find a weekend champion for your radio station

BLOG: A few years ago, UKRD made industry news when they ended the requirement for their presenters to undertake the dreaded sixth shift at the weekend. It made sense.

UKRD has always been forward-thinking, possibly because they’ve had a Chief Executive who has run successful companies outside the radio industry. That brings a different approach.

If you’re doing a morning show well, producing and presenting 5 programmes each week is knackering enough. Many stations still expect six-day working. However, in smaller stations, just doing a show would be a luxury!

This week, I’ve been considering how I’d address the dreaded weekend challenge if I had to be responsible for station output.

I started thinking after I received an email from one of the stations which broadcasts my weekly travel programme. Graham Hukins’ email footer refers to him as ‘Head Of Weekends’ at CSR in Canterbury. What a great idea! Instead of Saturday and Sunday content and programming becoming another ‘thing – to – do’ on your weekday list (and a nightmare before a Bank Holiday), crown one of your team as ‘the weekend champion’.

You might remember that there were two ITV television companies for London. Thames operated the weekday service. London Weekend Television took control at 5.15pm on Fridays. I suspect the reason for the split service was political and tied up with British paranoia over one operator becoming too powerful. But I guess it also enhanced the programming offer. Different ideas and a bit of internal competition, (they were both up against the BBC) is never a bad thing. And neither is giving someone responsibility and a bit of flexibility to try and road test different ideas, within agreed parameters.

You probably can’t have a full weekend team. Having one person who is “across” everything at the weekend and on duty might still introduce new thinking.

Of course, you don’t want the station sounding unsettlingly different. The 1970s and 1980s ITV London approach is bonkers by today’s standards.

Graham tells me that he looks after the weekend schedule at CSR and there is a programming manager overseeing all output. Graham ensures there is speech content at weekends. He tries to make the output a little more relaxed and, within the agreed parameters, he tweaks the format and experiments a little.

I’m not suggesting that you go weekend mad, on air, either. I really don’t enjoy the “whoop, whoop-it’s the weekend!” forced positivity that some stations foist on us. Millions of people have to work at the weekend. How would we be able to flock to IKEA otherwise? These weekend workers possibly don’t want reminding how they are unable to have ‘fun’. But maybe a dedicated person, who was off duty during the week, could remain fresh and focused in their duty of ensuring weekend standards are consistent with weekdays.If you brand airs features and content during the week, perhaps this worker could ensure that you shouldn’t sound like Spotify on FM at the weekend.

Weekend programming can also deliver your peak audience and certainly offers a chance for people to sample your brand at times when they may not normally be in a listening environment.

So if you haven’t got anyone spare or willing within your current team, why don’t you consider creating a role for somebody who loves working at the weekend? It’s always assumed that people want Saturday and Sunday off but I have friends who would prefer free time in the week because shops are quieter. IKEA is bearable on Tuesdays, apparently. You might find someone who wants to avoid being anywhere near their teenagers or you might find a bored partner of a weekend worker – a vicar or rabbi!

It’s now 18:20 on a Saturday evening and my days work is done.

If you are still working on tomorrow’s programming, ask yourself this – If you had someone taking care of your weekend output what would YOU want them to do, and why?

Keri Jones produces and presents the Great Destinations Radio Show – a weekly travel programme which is available free for commercial and community radio stations. It airs on 68 radio stations across the UK. To get the show on your service, email [email protected]

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