“Here's a word you haven't heard in the last 3
minutes, ‘Branding!’” says Rich Van Slyke, imaging and voice guy for
a number of stations, including Shane Media clients.
Branding has become such a buzzword at radio over the
past few years, it’s more like jargon
than a description of something real.
Branding goes beyond a name or a logo. It encompasses customer
expectations, the experience at live broadcasts, and the treatment a
listener or advertiser gets at the front desk or on the request
Most radio people think of branding first as imaging
(certainly an important element). So we asked “Mr. Voice” to offer
these Imaging Essentials:
This is the hard one, the one you should write down on a piece of
paper and post on the wall. For many PDs writing is difficult. It
can be made easier if you jot down 2 simple things.
1. Who we are. ___________________
2. What we do. ___________________
According to the branding experts, this is the
essential message. So, for our radio imaging, all of our sweepers
and promos should contain these two elements. Example:
1. Who we are.
2. What we do. Everything
On top of that, we should add a sense of
importance, we are the ones who bring you
the content that you enjoy. If you listen to our station, that
means you're a little better than the rest of the world. Example:
"It's your music. We just play it. Really
This is the "sound" of your imaging including your voices, style of
writing, overall attitude. Does your station voice match the sound
of your music? If you play music for a young demo, does your voice
sound young? If your music is fun and exciting, does your voice
sound fun and exciting? As you evaluate your imaging personality,
go back to your imaging promise, this is who we are, this is what we
do. Now, write down your imaging personality in three words.
When it comes to choosing sounds—background
music, jingles, sound effects—this is an important element. Use
the sounds that create the same emotions as your content. If
you program a sports station, you ought to have plenty of crowd
cheers. If you play rock music, you should have the sound
effects from the video game Guitar Hero. What are the
sounds of your Imaging Personality? Write them down.
Sounds of our
How often you run the elements? Can you say the name of your
station too much? (Answer: Hell no!)
But if you run the same liner between every song, will it get burned
out? (Answer: Hell, yes!) So, create a system for running
different liners and calculate how often they run. Then, calculate
how many times a day each element will run. Produce as many
versions of each element as you need. If you can go three days
without repeating an element, you are rockin!
Your Imaging Strategy might look like this (don’t
copy this, create your own):
Legal IDs -
10 once an hour
Morning show Liners - 50
twice an hour
Imaging Promise - 100
three times an hour
three times an hour
Music Hook Promos - 20
once an hour
As a PD/Brand Manager, you want to extend the brand
your radio station to your website, podcasts, videos, etc. Many
times I have clicked on a podcast and not heard a station ID
to start it off. Your tools for brand extensions are the same as
your on air imaging.
Station voice, sound effects, music, positioning statements, and
logos. They must be part of every element, on air or online.
Can they be altered for the web? The name of the game is
consistency. That's what consumers want. To know they are
connected to they favorite brand.
Rich VanSlyke is a voice guy on WNOR, KDKA, WGRD,
WKQZ, WKZQ, WKLR, KZOZ, WIXO, KCBL, WSFM, KKPL, WRZK, and for Shane
Media clients KELO-AM, Sioux Falls; WRXW (Rock 93-9), Jackson, MS;
and WYNU (Rock92-3), Jackson, TN.
Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
or go to