Mark Burnett on Survivor’s Survival

Posted on May 24, 2011


The recent Survivor finale marked the end of the show’s 22 season with a 23rd already on the schedule at CBS. That means twice a year since its debut in 2000, a group of castaways have been placed on an island somewhere with a chance to win $1,000,000 and there’s no end in sight.

Mark Burnett, who has produced the show since its debut, gave an interesting answer when the TV-focused Web site  TV Squad asked how, after 22 seasons, he keeps the Survivor concept fresh.

“Our job is to understand the brand, understand the viewers and deliver a little bit of magic each season and keep it fresh.”

That’s also the job description of anyone working on the programming side of a radio station.

As a host its your job to understand your audience; and I don’t mean the five people who show up to every remote appearance.

With Web pages, Twitter, Facebook and other social media, it’s easier than ever to find out what your audience is thinking.

By maintaining an off-air dialog with your audience you can find out how much they care about potential topics before you even step into the studio. You can get help refining new ideas for your show prior to going on the air with them and a constant stream of feedback after you do that helps minimize mistakes when you do try something new.

It’s also your job to understand the brand of your station. If you don’t know the station’s position and brand goals talk to your program director or general manager and find out. It’s up to you to find ways to connect with the audience and reinforce the station’s brand to them.

And of course, it’s up to you to bring the creativity, that “little bit of magic,” that keeps things fresh and interesting.

That sounds like a lot of work to me. If you want some help I would suggest hiring a mechanic.