What's It Going To Take...?

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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Thu Jun 29, 2017 6:17 am

New Terminology – Same Deal
There’s nothing quite like a new piece of terminology to excite and confuse the locals. The latest is “UX” (User Experience). We must love our terminologies, especially when they describe or re-label something that has been there all along. Say, they wouldn’t be talking about what an audience goes through when they hear our stations, now, would they?

I submit that “User Experiences” will be about no more than a guessed-at description of music selection and rotation. I suggest this is where radio station “research” essentially stops.

Even the methodologies of conducting the (alleged) research are so flawed as to make one wonder if the results are not similar to political polling. Radio has been lured into the same traps as so many others when it accepts the results generated by “active” research.

This ill-fated exercise begins with the assumption that “asking” - in our case, audience members – “what they want”, is actually a viable question that will deliver useful responses. I would urge any manager considering wandering down that dark, dangerous and twisting pathway, to simply cut me a bank transfer for half the amount, and we’ll have a nice, pleasant, little chat.

To the degree that any information gleaned from audience members would be expected to be useful to us, as practitioners of contemporary radio, is an affront on reason because of two factors:
1. The value of any information provided by “active research” wouldn’t enhance the bottom of a sluice bucket. And,
2. Radio has made no improvements at all, and for decades, in the areas of on-air presentation and in the writing and production of more tolerable or more influential, commercial product.

So ingrained are the traditions and the dogmatic drivel that has been foisted on audiences and radio’s employees for over thirty years, a sealed vacuum has been generated. Senior Program Directors are left with no other options but to thrash around and provide maudlin and embarrassing edicts and admonitions about “motivation” on the one hand, and the need for absolute control on the other.

The afflicted PD’s cannot even fathom how it is that, when it comes to improved or more useful and effective approaches to audiences, they go to their programming toolboxes. There they find only a few mismatched nails and screws, a rusty hammer, a quarter roll of gooey electrical tap, a pair of dead AA batteries, and a browned-out, dog-eared and warped copy of “Think And Grow Rich” - with the cover torn off. In other words, the vast majority of programmers are in a position to train their staff to change the toilet paper rolls.

One of the first psychological phenomena to which I was introduced as I was studying and training to do counseling work, was the following:

“People are much more likely to value ‘Control’ over ‘Effect’.”

No expensive research project is necessary to demonstrate the principle. Casual observations around the stations over a short period will provide enough evidence to come to a few conclusions. The only hint I might provide is: While observing an individual or small group, compare their behaviors to what they say.

I suggest that “Audience Experience” (UX) is not even on a teeny little radar MacGyver’ed to a 1960’s transistor radio. I get that. I am of the firm belief that ownership and management have no interest whatsoever in finding out what audiences want. Neither do I. The information is useless! Even if management could get a handle on what it is that audiences “want”, they still wouldn’t care.

Audiences, I propose, are essentially clueless about whether they are punched, bored, reamed or riveted. They are, however, oh, so sincere in their responses. This is not, I insist, a denouncement of any audience’s mental faculties. It is, though, a comment about those same people being unaware of their UNconscious drivers – the important stuff.

The key is in finding out what, specifically, it is that will get audiences responding – in ways that we want, of course. A few of us claim to have, already, figured that part out. Radio management and ownership lean back in their office chairs and, in a weak impersonation of W.C. Fields, arrogantly blurt out, “Not interested! Now, go away. You bother me!”

Ronald T. Robinson has been involved in Canadian radio since the '60s as a performer, writer and coach, and has trained and certified as a personal counsellor. Ron makes the assertion, based on years of testing in the on-air and commercial production environments, that the most important communicative aspects of broadcasting have yet to be addressed or applied. info@voicetalentguy.com
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Mon Jul 10, 2017 4:33 am

The Programming Cupboard Is Now Bare

The title is provided as is because Corporate PD’s have little else to do except slip into being philosophers rather than teachers/trainers or coaches. For over thirty years, any worthwhile strategies and methodologies, as they apply to influencing audiences, have been tapped, drained - and discarded.

The tragedy and irony of the situation is that it has been radio’s ownership and leadership that have been drawing the lifeblood out of their own industry – all for the sake of “efficiencies”, of course. Programming has been relegated to foisting, old, weak and distilled adages and edicts that were extraordinarily bland even from when they were still considered to be worthwhile - even whizzy.

Over the decades, Programmers have been systematically suppressed to the point where their main responsibility now is to genuflect before GSM’s and GM’s – to do so often, and at such a high speed that a slo-mo replay is required to count the cycles. They had better show some respect, submission and enthusiasm in the process, as well.

I do appreciate how radio has, within its ranks, maybe a few hundred Programming Master Sergeants who have earned their stripes and made their bones. Yet, their contributions extend only so far as their geographical proximity and management largesse allows. Corporate Programmers lost whatever touch they might have had with staff and audiences many years ago, and even they are prohibited from rising above the rank of Captain. (There are no Generals in Programming.)

So austere, frustrated and cynical have they become, that the awareness of their programming cupboard being empty is a situation about which the shedding of any tears only becomes a wasted and pathetic display.

Programmers have little else to do but urge their staffs to become heavily involved in generating a “Positive Mental Attitude”. This would be despite all the evidence that points to that as taking up, more a form of a Secular Religion, Beyond an “mental adjustment”, there are no other useful or credible means or materials available for a staff member to further their skills and enhance their careers – beyond “getting their minds right with the program”.

“Positive Mental Attitude” has been in our lexicon for a few generations, but there has yet to be a satisfactory explanation or methodology provided that supports any rather maudlin (on surface) insistence as to its value.

- In what way, specifically?
- According to whom?
- Under what circumstances?
- Generated how, specifically?
- Applied when, how often and how intensely, specifically?
- As compared to what, specifically?

Should we buy “The Secret”, set ourselves up with a bundle that The Universe will manifest and provide for us - IF we work the system properly?

Yes, I understand that anyone in radio who is not working towards a worthy ideal and doing so with genuine enthusiasm will have more difficulties than they might otherwise experience. Plus, the rest of the staff will be avoiding those who are the “buzz killers”. The exercise, however, is still akin to volunteering to go under the ether.

When The Universe or some other element doesn’t deliver the pony, it’s time to consider other options. And no, I’m not bitter.

Difficulties arise when, as this all applies to influencing audiences through on-air and commercial writing and production, the programmers have nothing but empty satchels from which to haul out any useful and powerful methods of enhancing a station’s results. Programmers find themselves double-timing in four-foot circles rather than being well armed, informed and leading by example.

Somehow, although no longer a mystery, radio has dropped Education, Training and Practice as worthwhile programming concepts to, oh, I dunno, maybe kick around a bit.

As ownership and management are, rightly, considering how to communicate the reality of radio’s significant and wonderful impact on audiences for the benefit of advertisers, the Programmers no longer have a seat at the table.

Only one of the ironies is in how most agree: The most influential elements required for engaging audiences are the on-air and spot-production dynamics of every radio station. So, let’s casually amble over to that there programming cupboard yonder, and whip us up some fine, tasty and influential treats. Oh. Can’t do that? Cupboard’s bare? “Don’ need no stinking treats, anyway.” Hammer the sales department instead.

Ronald T. Robinson has been involved in Canadian radio since the '60s as a performer, writer and coach, and has trained and certified as a personal counsellor. Ron makes the assertion, based on years of testing in the on-air and commercial production environments, that the most important communicative aspects of broadcasting have still not been addressed or applied. info@voicetalentguy.com
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Mon Jul 17, 2017 5:14 am

Radio’s Missing Links

Commercial Music Radio insists on its ongoing efforts to – unknowingly, I expect, by ownership, management and programming – sabotage the efficacy of this medium. Only lucky it is that Radio does have one major dynamic going for it, and were it not for this, we wouldn’t have an industry.

Radio, because it is an electronic medium, automatically bypasses the critical thinking elements and potentials of our audiences. Instead, radio immediately drills directly into the emotional and (usually unconscious) aspects of our cranial capacities. Hardly anyone in the audience, for example, is experiencing the music we play at a conscious, rational level. Them thar tunes are experienced emotionally.

Yet, what does radio do when it comes to on-air deliveries and commercial writing? We present those elements of our broadcasts as if we were speaking to a single individual that is accessing the medium reasonably and rationally and with retention. We assume this person is processing and retaining, what is mostly, pure informational content! By presuming so, we kick ourselves in the butt and in the head.

Management is unable to demonstrate how their traditional approaches to these aspects of the medium contain any recent educational elements, practices, experiences, experimentations or demonstrations of quantifiable results – beyond that which has been the status quo for decades.

News Alert: Earth No Longer Flat. Updated Information Needed.

While radio struggles, although with some small degree of success, to demonstrate the efficacy of the medium – just the way it operated before and still does now – the necessity to close the remaining link is still necessary for radio to generate a more powerful future. Unfortunately, my sayin’ so don’t make it so.

Ownership and management of radio have absolutely no vested interest in getting up on their haunches and bawling, “The status quo is/is not the way to go!” But, according to rumours getting some traction: Owners and managers are humans, too. Their first natural responses to many challenges are: Stop thinking, and instead - react! “Thinking”, as a pre-determined act, is only an option - a possibility.

To be fair, it’s not that owners and managers are not thinking. They are. The issue does get murky, however, when it can be determined that management’s “thinking” is restricted to, mainly, only one area of radio.

The long-term behaviours of the management corps demonstrate the only priority is their singular desire to increase, what is being called, “The telling of the story”. It’s a good one, too. It is the tale of how radio really is a misunderstood (by advertisers) medium with respect to its reach and, more importantly, to its influence. Radio can be a very influential medium – even though its services still remain, generally, extraordinarily shoddy, sloppy, superficial and, to a frustratingly large degree – inconsequential.

Because of this chosen position – concentrating only on “telling the story” – the most important and effectual element remains: The necessity for radio to make massive improvements to its services – on-air and commercial production.

“Telling the story” is a responsibility, primarily, of the sales departments. It is up to those members of the staff to explain, demonstrate or otherwise educate local advertisers and, if they can take the abuse, the advertising agencies – those outfits whose main purpose is to torture and exploit local stations.

It is still an unfortunate, but unaccepted, ignored and/or disregarded fact of radio sales that: Until the local stations can produce and deliver more effective and exceptional services, local advertisers and agencies will take sinister joy in toying with those stations, taking their candy, eating their cheese, and crushing their spirits.

The information being supplied by a number of credible sources, illuminating radio’s potential for more sales, is important and well received - again by sales departments. The programming departments, those who have the most need for improved services, are left kicking dust outside the area where the sales staff – the “cool kids” - are getting all of the attention.

None of this should be surprising, as the Programming departments – for a very long time - have been unable to supply the necessary strategies and methodologies required before they (the programmers) can step up and functionally contribute with confidence.

It is Programming – on-air and creative - I am sorry to report, that makes up the weakest, sometimes broken and, too often, the missing links.

Ronald T. Robinson has been involved in Canadian radio since the '60s as a performer, writer and coach, and has trained and certified as a personal counsellor. Ron makes the assertion, based on years of testing in the on-air and commercial production environments, that the most important communicative aspects of broadcasting have still not been addressed or applied. info@voicetalentguy.com
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Thu Jul 27, 2017 5:13 am

Needed: Competent Communicators
Recently, the astute and credible Chairman of Radio Ink, Eric Rhoads, wrote an article in the magazine appealing to radio’s ownership, management and working staffs.
While no cheerleader for Great Big Bloated Corporate Radio, he also cautions those who would eagerly rip into the larger corporations for all the known and (mostly) accepted rationales.

Eric also reminds us of those outfits – smaller to be sure – who are doing quite nicely. One could reasonably wonder: If some smaller outfits are doing so well, what is it that stops the biggies from sending out scouts to reconnoiter and learn what the distinctions are; to model those stations and to implement those models from the Big, Corporate Towers – back on down the line.

Meanwhile, many radio operators are scrambling to collate the information and research that radio does, indeed, deliver an exciting ROI. Presenting the information in a professional and compelling manner and having the information accepted by a wary and sometimes cynical advertiser-corps are separate, extremely challenging, but still worthwhile matters.

Even as Bob Pittman and Mary Berner are exemplary individuals engaged in the daunting tasks of turning their respective enterprises around, any ignoring of the massive debts and questionable approaches to making any real headway are akin to whistling in the dark and wishing for a dawn that never seems to come.

Are there any cogent arguments that the consolidation nightmare that became radio’s reality, and the subsequent gutting of talent - the evisceration of the elements that could provide relief, have not been discounted and ignored? It is also clear: The massive, necessary improvements in radio’s most basic products and services are not even being discussed.

When I started to scribble this article my working title was: “Wanted: Master Communicators”. I immediately realized this was no accurate representation of what radio ownership has ever articulated or advertised. Next, I tried, ”Needed: Master Communicators”. That wasn’t going to fly either, as I am unaware of any senior management that has ever made such a statement. I finally had to accept the title as provided: “Needed: Competent Communicators”, even as there is no consensus on that, either.

I can only speculate that during the forty years Moses was leading the people around the wilderness, that somebody didn’t speak up and say, “Since this isn’t working, how ‘bout we do something else?” It has now been decades since radio has been self-exiled into the wilderness; attitudes are becoming ugly and vicious, and supplies are dwindling. It’s hard to do good work while chewing the bark off rocks.

One can only contend the majority of owners and management have become delusional on what it is we do for a living or what our responsibilities include. Let me offer a refresher: Our core responsibilities are to attract and hold as great a number of audience members as we can, and to provide the most influential commercial messages as we can on behalf of our advertisers. As an industry, we would be graded at a D minus.

Contemporary radio is being cruel to and disrespectful of both audiences and advertisers. That we have been getting away with it is hardly a recommendation for continuing the practices. That radio is falling off the list of desirable advertising media suggests that we really aren’t getting away with much at all.

With the exception of a few hundred marvelous presenters who are doing terrific work for their outfits, and who can make it on their extraordinary personalities alone, the competency levels of the remaining on-air folk everywhere else is akin to running on fumes and gasping. Ownership, management and programmers, either intuitively or consciously, are aware enough of how bereft of knowledge and skill the talent-corps really is. Shoddy, cookie-cutter copy also qualifies.

Radio, essentially, provides a mess o’ tunes, followed by a mess o’ spots along with minimal, but still innocuous, irrelevant and unappealing messes o’ babble between those two major elements. Locally produced radio commercials demonstrate the lowest possible levels of communicative competencies ever delivered through a professional, electronic medium.

Yet, radio continues to hang in there despite its glaring, but unacknowledged and unaccepted communicative inadequacies. Radio has a desperate need for competent communicators – by the thousands. Eric, meanwhile, is to be applauded for his ongoing support for a (potentially) magnificent medium.

Ronald T. Robinson has been involved in Canadian radio since the '60s as a performer, writer and coach, and has trained and certified as a personal counsellor. Ron makes the assertion, based on years of testing in the on-air and commercial production environments, that the most important communicative aspects of broadcasting have still not been addressed or applied. info@voicetalentguy.com
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