Great Minds Think Alike: Jan Jeffries and Spike Eskin

Posted on December 16, 2011


Jan Jeffries

One of the nice parts of my various far-flung enterprises is that they often overlap.For example I recently interviewed Cumulus Media’s Senior Vice President of Programming Jan Jeffries for an article in the Billboard Top 40 Update (which you can subscribe to here).

We had a great conversation about the biggest trends of 2011 and what he is expecting in 2012 and, even though it was somewhat off-topic, during the interview we wandered into a discussion about talent which, following my own advice from an earlier post, I’ve repurposed here.

Possibly the best moment was when he echoed the exact sentiments of a recent guest post by Spike Eskin titled, “Know Your Exit Strategy,” about how every talent should know how they are going to end a break before they open the mic.

Jan literally said, “Any airtalent, especially in a PPM market, that doesn’t know for sure what their payoff line is – is losing.”

Spike Eskin

He added that if you vacillate (great word that doesn’t come up nearly enough) and miss your exit ramp you will lose audience not only in that break but potentially down the road because they will be less inclined to tune back in.

I wonder if Spike and Jan know each other?

Here are a few other poignant comments from Jan:

  • About the value of talent: “People come to the station for music but airtalent is the galvanizing force that keeps people coming back. It’s what draws an emotion from them and can help a station become a favorite.”
  • About focusing breaks (similar to my recent post about juggling): “With PPM we’ve had to learn to really be to the point. Pick one major thought and drive it home. And make sure [that thought] meets the expectation of that station’s core listeners. We have to really narrow our focus on our talk breaks and get to the point.”
  • About doing a great break: “It’s the difference between window shopping and walking to an appointment when you are already five minutes late. The latter sounds like you are making a point so people are more prone to stay with you.”
  • About how listeners consume content: “Radio is unlike any thing else because people are listening while they are doing something else; running on the treadmill, working, driving etc. When we make a point, in order to be understood, we have to really drive that point home crisp and clean.”

At one point I thought he was about to suggest that every talent hire a great mechanic to help focus their show but he didn’t. Oh well, no one’s perfect.