Michael Baisden’s Return To Radio A Case Study In Branding Success
Written by J.Coveney
Dynamic multi-media personality Michael Baisden returns to urban radio in January 2017 after a three-year hiatus from the commercial airwaves. As previously reported, the new Michael Baisden Show will air from 3 to 7 p.m. on WRHD-HD2 The All New Fresh 97.9 Greenville, N.C., a newly launched R&B outlet that debuted in September. His return is welcome news for Baisden’s millions of fans who were caught by surprise when the show was abruptly canceled in March 2013 after a successful ten-year run. But to some, Baisden’s return to radio was the inevitable result of a consistent branding strategy.
Though the popular radio host Baisden found himself literally locked out of the Cumulus Broadcasting studio due to communication issues during his contract negotiation, he didn’t let that setback discourage or stop him. Where this professional fiasco would have sent others out of the spotlight for a while to reconsider their options, the media-savvy personality appeared not to miss a single step, continuing to meet his ongoing business and non-profit goals, maintain his public profile, and keep the national conversation around important social and cultural issues going strong.
STAYING TRUE TO HIS CORE
So how did the outspoken author and motivational speaker burnish his brand in the wake of his show’s demise? Baisden simply continued doing him by carrying on the many activities that helped land him on the radio in the first place. By writing and promoting thought-provoking books, drawing attention to key social issues in the African American community, and leveraging the exposure of a variety of broadcast and social media platforms to share his various messages, Baisden stayed in the public eye and maintained relevancy.
A New York Times bestselling author, Baisden released his latest book in 2014, a year after leaving radio. Titled Raise Your Hand If You Have Issues: If You Didn’t Raise Your Hand You’re Lying and That’s an Issue., the book follows 2012’s bestselling Maintenance Man II; and further cemented Baisden’s image as a credible motivational leader and life coach. Baisden utilized book publishing from the beginning of his career to establish himself as a public figure and subject matter expert; in an age of self-publishing and branding, book authorship is now a major pathway to brand identification for a wide audience. Baisden harnessed this idea back in 1997 with Never Satisfied How & Why Men Cheat, a provocative title that he first sold out of the back of his car and grew into a nationwide phenomenon.
Baisden shares the inspiration and goal oriented business plan he first developed in the marketing notes for Raise Your Hand. “As a college dropout, former Air Force Sergeant, single parent and transit worker from the south side of Chicago, I wanted my life to mean something. That opportunity came when I stepped out on faith to live my dream,” Baisden states. “That courageous step resulted in 5 bestselling books, a national radio show airing in 100 cities, 2 national TV shows, mentoring partnerships and social activism. Those things never would have happened if I didn’t learn to become an expert at managing my own life, my own business and my own journey!”
Mastering Multiple Media Platforms
No radio? No problem. Building on the national profile he’d gained while broadcasting a daily show, Baisden increased his presence through other media platforms, including social media, television, video and podcasting. Baisden has become a master of multi-platform social media marketing to keep his followers abreast of his activities and often controversial opinions. This has allowed him to keep pace with current events, as well as continuously interact with his followers. Baisden’s non-stop media activities paid off, with the busy personality posting a YouTube clip in September 2016 that celebrated his milestone of reaching 4.1 million FaceBook likes.
For example, Baisden continues to throw new fuel on core topics for followers to debate. For example, on Nov. 30 Baisden posted to his FaceBook page criticizing those looking for love in all the wrong places; titled “Stop Blaming The Opposite Sex: Maybe the problem is YOU!,” the commentary is sure to stir strong opinions on the battle of the sexes – which is Baisden’s chief role as agent provocateur. “I’ve dealt with liars, deceivers, and materialists. And even when you’re upfront about what you want, we all know people will lie to themselves in order to be with you,” Baisden writes in his trademark incendiary style. He concludes, “Make 2017 the year of growth and maturity, and that starts by not blaming others for your situation.”
His YouTube channel is regularly updated with video versions of his popular podcasts, not to mention past episodes of “Baisden After Dark,” the popular variety and talk show on TV One where he served as co-host and producer. With co-host Craig Willborn and musical director Morris Day of The Time, the show further cemented Baisden’s reputation as a freewheeling master of ceremonies who could ask provocative questions about relationships, share his opinions on various topics, celebrate African American cultural achievements, and make folks laugh as well as think.
Keeping His Heart In His Work
Baisden’s commitment to charitable endeavors also moved forward without reinforcement from daily radio promotion. Part of his mission and brand was a dedication to social justice, education, literacy and mentoring within the African American Community. Just months after the shutdown of his radio show, Baisden launched the One Dream One Team Mentoring Initiative; working with the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization, Baisden committed to finding African American mentors for each of the more than 12,000 boys on the organization’s mentorship waiting list and convened a One Dream One Team Think Tank conference in Orlando, Florida, challenging participants to find or become mentors for young men and boys. Baisden had adopted an entire class of 28 boys at an Orlando high school in 2012, pledging to find one-on-one mentorship for each to help them with their educational and professional goals. That class graduated this year, giving him another milestone to share with his followers on his social media platforms.
Continuing the work he’d done to combat police brutality and create new opportunities for young man is another way that Baisden has maintained his identity and credibility in the market. Listeners remember his role in mobilizing a national response to the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012, and previous to that, in 2007, his organization of a protest march on Jena, Louisiana, in response to the police shootings of six unarmed young men. With reports of unjustified police shootings increasing in the wake of the Ferguson incident of 2015, Baisden has intensified his persona as a leader and organizer.
Back On The Airwaves
It remains to be seen whether Baisden’s new radio venture will rival the popularity of his previous show, which was heard in more than 78 radio markets during afternoon drive. The urban radio syndication marketplace has seen a number of shifts in the three years since his show was last heard; further, Baisden’s style of broadcasting created a seismic shift within the competitive urban radio industry that had become used to more formulaic fare from seasoned jocks. Baisden challenged standards by creating an afternoon drive-time hybrid between talk radio and music radio, a formula that longtime broadcasting pros had long believed would only work in mornings.
But as they say, timing is everything. The national climate has changed drastically now that the presidency of our first African American Commander in Chief, Barack Obama, is coming to a close, and the country is still coming to grips with the full import of 2016’s election results. Baisden’s ability to navigate a number of thorny subjects, allow for a variety of listener viewpoints, and mobilize community activism is an established brand and bodes well for the success of his new show.