In 1964, two men named Mike began broadcasting a country music format on 1070 AM in Wichita, Kansas. The call letters of the station were KFDI. There was a lot that was unremarkable about KFDI. It played country music, it had a commitment to local news, and it had some “colorful” announcers, but initially, it was just another radio station.
What made this underpowered, understaffed, and underfunded radio station unique was the culture that the two Mikes started on day one. The Mikes saw KFDI not as a radio station, but as a working ranch that happened to have microphones and towers. They embraced the Ranch Hand way of working — start early, don’t quit until the day is done, and give the boss his money’s worth each and every minute of the day. That culture came to be known as the Ranch Hand Way.
I tell this story to give you an idea of where I came from. I started selling radio time for KFDI in 1990. Immediately I was immersed in the Ranch Hand way of doing things. I learned to do whatever it takes to help my customers — even if they weren’t buying advertising from me. I learned that my job wasn’t really to sell airtime, it was to help businesses grow.
One of the ways KFDI helped it’s advertisers grow was the way it interacted with it’s listeners. KFDI wasn’t there to play music and achieve ratings, it existed to connect with the listeners by relating to their lifestyles and being a source of information. That information came in the form of news, weather, lost dog reports, and information about local businesses (aka commercials). The Mikes treated commercials as a vital source of information — almost like a referral source — to their listeners, not as an interruption as most radio station do today.
When I started First Person Advertising in 2007, my goal was to carry on The Ranch Hand Way. I wanted my clients to feel as if I was a part of their business. I wanted to work with radio station talent to train them how to deliver my client’s message in such a way that they were telling their listeners — “hey, these people are all right”.
So far, so good. My clients see their advertising strategy produce strong lead volume and double digit sales growth. I’ll never grow tired of seeing the look on my client’s face or the surprise in their voice when they realize, “Hey, this stuff really works!” The Ranch Hand Way is from a bygone era, but it will never be obsolete. In fact, I believe the farther the world moves away from those principles, it becomes more relevant than ever before.