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SYNDICATION 101... Barter Show Length

Even if your barter show has been running for a while, when your syndication becomes more serious you will need to start looking at offering different show lengths, other than what you currently have. And, if you have been doing only brokered time, then most of your ideals will need to be re-worked. Here are some options and the reasons for them...

1 or 2 or 3 minute vignettes (sometimes called "shorts"): Very short segments of less than 3 minutes are always the starting point for barter, since they can be placed into a stopset (or into another show), without affecting the music or the talk of that current show. Since you are then not affecting the station's "programming", your only obstacles to growing your barter program will be:

1. Can the stations sell it to local sponsors?

2. How familiar is your program's host with the station's audience? (Stations don't want another "new" personality.)

3. How reliable are you in delivering your show? (Stations don't want to take a chance on a new supplier.)

4. How fast is your show growing? (Stations don't want to work with a show that has no chance of becoming a hit across the country.)

Once a vignette is rolled out (say, 100 to 200 stations), a half hour show is the next logical step. Stations which already run the vignette are the first targets, since:

1. The vignette stations have proven they can sell it.

2. The host is now familiar to listeners.

3. You have proven you can deliver it every week.

4. You have shown some initial growth.

If, on the other hand, you are attempting to get your long-form (half-hour or hour) show onto brand new stations without first pushing a vignette, then you have the above points working against you, plus:

* You will now be asking to take work (a half-hour or hour) from the jock who was previously on-air at that time, or...

* You will now be asking to remove someone else's show (or one half or full hour of the show) that was previously in the spot that you want to be in.

Either way, someone at the station is not going to be happy (the jock, or the other show's syndicator), and they are going to fight to keep things they way they are. And on top of this, you sometimes have contracts between the station and the show (or jock) that must lapse before the station can easily change things. This "changing of programming" is why shows longer than vignettes have so much trouble getting cleared.

Once, however, your half-hour show is cleared on enough stations, then a one-hour show (on the current stations) is a less-painfull next step. It's not until you hit two and three hours that the resistance builds again, because then your are:

* Completely removing a jock from his/her job for that day, or you are...

* Removing several other half or one-hour shows.

Interestingly, things get easier again when you get to the four and five-hour level, because now you will be viewed as a proven low-maintenence and low-cost filler for an entire daypart. Any by this time, the other displaced shows have subsided (contracts included), and the other jock(s) have left or moved to other functions (like board-opping your show). If your current longform show is already bartering on some level, then it is still a good idea to get a vignette going. No matter how many stations you have with a longform, there are always additional larger stations that you can't currently get, and a vignette can give you a chance with these stations.

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