Steve Price is a national treasure.
No, not the angry leprechaun from Channel 10’s “the Project”. I’m talking about “Pricey”, the host of the 4TO breakfast show in Townsville where’s he’s been the unofficial mayor for the last 30 years. In fact he was recently voted one of the Top10 Townsville icons.
He started in radio at 3DB back in the 70’s and still has the same level of passion and enthusiasm for the industry as he did when he first started.
I have been lucky enough to spend some time talking with Pricey over the years, here’s what I’ve learnt along the way.
1. In his world, the listener is the boss.
Pricey does the show for them, not anyone else, ever.
I was simply amazed at the level of detail and knowledge that Pricey has for his audience.
He knows who’s listening at 5am when the show starts-where they are, who they are, the jobs they’re going to or coming from, their collective mood and what they need to hear from him.
Same for the new audience that comes in at 6am and so on as the morning progresses.
2. Radio is one on one.
According to Pricey, listeners should feel comfortable having you in their homes.
I have never heard anyone talk with such passion about the incredible privilege of being allowed into people’s lives and homes everyday.
3. Local is everything.
I know you’ve heard that before, but Pricey does “local” like no other broadcaster in the country.
When he started in Townsville 30 years ago, he spent the first 3 weeks in the local library learning about the history of the town!!
His show has become the town square for the locals. It’s the place where everyone comes to hear about the issues and stories that affect their community. Nothing happens in Townsville without Pricey knowing about it first.
4. Branding is everything.
Everyone calls him “Pricey”. Funny thing is, he doesn’t mention his name on the air, listeners do that for him.
He wears God-awful Hawaiian shirts in every photo shoot. He’s now famous for them.
He has a catch-phrase…”happy days”. He says it and his listeners say it to him. It’s not only a connection point and a statement of intent, it’s a trigger for the audience. It’s pretty hard to forget a good catch-phrase.
He understands the power of branding of being genuinely different and true to yourself.
There is nothing, and I mean nothing, that is generic about Steve Price.
5. He does things differently.
Pricey has never done a phone topic. Ever.
He will pose a question, start a conversation and the phone will invariably ring. No solicit required. Listeners know his number and where to find him.
He hosts the show on his own and has done everyday for 30 years.
Now just think about the amount of content he needs to generate, but he manages to do it because the town comes to him. Stories happen around him, then through him and back out to the community for discussion. It’s this powerful communication loop that has trust, respect and dependability at it’s core.
6. Pricey gives back to the community.
Not because the station asks him to, but because it’s the least he can do for a city that has given him so much in return.
There is no need to remind Pricey that he’s about due for another listener rescue, he has the community as his sole focus and will always find a way to make a difference.
Radio, now more than ever, is about building brand advocates-finding listeners and turning them into fans. Steve Price has turned his fan base into something much more.
I’m sure he won’t mind me telling you the story of the day he took a phone call from a listener after the show who invited him to his mothers’ funeral.
Pricey had never met the lady who had died suddenly at the age of 54, but before she passed away she had asked her son to request that he be there because she felt like he was an important friend having listened to his show every morning for many years.
After some deliberation, Pricey went to the funeral and stood quietly at the back of the hall in his god awful Hawaiian shirt throughout the proceedings.
At the end of the funeral the priest asked if anyone had anything further to add.
Pricey couldn’t help himself.
He walked to the front of the church and spoke in front of hundreds of mourners. Now, without knowing exactly what he said, I’m guessing he brought some level of comfort to those people that day.
Because that’s what Pricey does every morning.