What's It Going To Take...?

General Radio News and Comments, Satellite & Internet Radio and LPFM

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

Postby pave » Mon Sep 19, 2016 11:47 am

While the "crs" litany of complaints and criticisms are all legitimate, they are also the representations of all the old, well-worn shoes that have been increasingly bandied about and kicked around for decades.

To be sure, these are all matters that need to be re-addressed, but doing so will not insure a greater acceptance from radio's future audiences. This, because radio will be required to deliver its products (spots) and on-air presentations with a great deal more knowledge and skills from the presenters.

"Retro" is not an appropriate or particularly useful strategy.

As to WlNG-FM out of Sag Harbour, Long Island:

After 50 minutes, all I heard were some whizzy jingles, amateurish spots and long-form, rambling, commercial drop-ins for a gym. The in-studio jock had gone out for coffee.

Did I mention the "whizzy jingles"? They replaced the robo-jock. (He finally did an intro.)

To be successful, an on-air performer will have to crack the mic far more often, be flexible in their deliveries and have something worthwhile to say.

This station is not a bench mark for anything that would resemble appealing radio in future.
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby crs » Mon Sep 19, 2016 1:08 pm

So I'm an old shoe? Quick someone drop me in the thrift store clothing bin! :yahoo: Maybe OldShoe should be my new RadioWest name!!!

But seriously folks, corporate radio has turned their back on the millenials and has no intention of trying to get in touch with them. I have a couple of them at home and they couldn't tell me the last time they tuned in a radio station for new music or to find out what's going on in the community (save for uncontrolled exposure in the car). Nor have either of my millenials ever touched/read a newspaper. The conventional media of our generation (TV, Radio and Newspaper) are not the centre of their universe. Maybe hire a "Youtuber" to read the news and jock a shift! :rockon:
Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars!
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Mon Sep 19, 2016 2:44 pm

Most of us, crs already share the "old shoe" position. Our perspectives, while noble and multiple, have not been considered as worthwhile, especially when there are price tags attached.

Meanwhile, millenials - and any other valuable, targeted audience - will only be attracted to or back to terra-radio IF programming is such that it becomes appealing.
More price tags.
Further, I am also satisfied that current ownership has no clue about what their next steps to improve their positions will be. None, whatsoever.
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Tue Sep 20, 2016 7:45 am

A reminder to visitors:
My most recent blog, "Radio’s Better Case Scenario", was posted on Monday and is 5 commentaries back - on the previous page.
Gracias. (That's Spanish. I looked it up. :glasses7: )
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Sun Sep 25, 2016 9:25 pm

Who Remembers Radio’s Spots?
I have only occasionally thought of myself as sporting anything even slightly close to a sadistic personality, especially when I’m not appropriately dressed for the part. Very few in the audience saw me on the radio. I wasn’t brandishing a riding crop and I wasn’t ordering anybody around. I wasn’t contagious, either. But, as partial full disclosure, I might yet be an assertive carrier. So, pay attention! (Snap!)

There exists a unique, extra-special element within the strategies, methodologies and principles I have been offering - in order to make of radio a far more listenable and effective medium. Trotting this element into public, I confess, does afford me a modicum of pleasure while straining my already tenuous credibility.

My years of radio experience have demonstrated that, any time I spread this one element out like it was a luxurious full-length mink coat, lovingly splayed on a furrier’s salon floor, somebody is going to detonate. Spontaneously, they become outraged and (figuratively) explode into frothy, rouge mists – followed by a plopping cascade of bits of awful offal.

Many radio traditionalists and others who figure they are dealing with contemporary wisdom will discuss the topic of “Top Of Mind Awareness” - casually and with generous amounts of unchallenged certainty and confidence. Doctrine has it that radio commercials are placed on the air for the express purpose of generating just such top of mind awareness. The reasoning is more than accepted – it has become unassailable.

Yet, the logic breaks down from a slight nudge, especially when the concept of memory is brought forward. Again, the accepted rationale is that an audience member (potential customer for an advertiser) will hear certain commercial messages over time and, when they find themselves ready to purchase that advertiser’s product or service, they will then think of the ad, saddle up and mosey on over “to a location near you”.

Let us, momentarily, tread into questionably dangerous and shaky ground. The exercise is: To ask a number of listeners the following question - one that has everything to do with “top of mind awareness” and “memory”: “What are the last three radio commercials you heard, where you then went out and bought the product?” Most respondents can’t get past one – if they can even report on just one.

A few of those episodes, and it would be understandable how a form of panic would be setting in. Numbers of explanations come to mind – none desirable. They might include:
- The listener wasn’t paying close enough attention to the spot.
- The audience member’s memory is suspect.
- The spot was terrible and didn’t impact on the audience member.
- The audience member wasn’t “in the market” at the time.
- The listener was unwilling to concede that a lowly radio spot might have influenced them.
- They tune out of commercial clusters. So theirs are virgin ears, and they are excused from the test.
- The advertiser’s offer or deal wasn’t compelling enough to motivate interest, traffic or purchasing.
- Radio doesn’t work.

Whether categorized as reasons or excuses, these are all unquestionably “real”. When these elements are considered, “panic” would be a reasonable, albeit unsatisfactory response. But, are we really pooched? No, we are not. Here again, is the unknown, unexploited factor that, nevertheless, has likely been saving radio’s bacon - our “saving grace”, so to speak, for all these years.

Conscious recall (memory) is not required to generate traffic or buying responses!

Now, this radical pronouncement could be discounted as an outrageous piece of ooga-booga emanating from a suspiciously troubled individual. Or, it could represent the beginning of an understanding of how radio really works, and an appreciation of the spectacular sophistication and complexities in play when our nifty electronic signals impact on other humans – our audiences.

Radio-folks are quick and eager to discuss “top-of-mind-awareness”. Further, it is done so with the understanding that an exceptionally holy grail of radio advertising has just been introduced. However, just to offer the phrase implies the elements of consciousness and memory are not only connected to buying behaviors, but that we are depending on those elements to be dynamically engaged – short and long term. Evidence to support the efficacy of the “top-of-mind” position is minimal. So we lie.

Because of the neurological processes that radio audiences unconsciously experience - and they have no choice in this - carefully produced radio advertising can, indeed, be akin to “brainwashing”. I grant this is a distasteful, undemocratic and sinister term, When ads are designed, however, to take advantage of these neurological processes, they become more like machines that not only wash brains, they also scour, spin and toss the Downey fabric softener in during the drying cycle. Great ads also neatly fold.

Further, people are far more likely and able to recall the ads they see in print, on billboards, bus boards and the like. I remember, for example, some grocery items I saw in flyers that were delivered a few days ago. (“Maxwell House coffee. $6.99!”) I don’t remember the content of the radio spots I heard yesterday or the content of the ones I voiced this morning.

Explanations for how these factors work for the benefit of radio and its advertisers, along with the methods to exploit their potentials are available. Given those potentials, stomping on the panic button can be delayed. I remind readers who are considering this material that they, too, are accessing through an electronic medium - resulting in the memories of this content to likely be of the very short-term variety. So. Does anybody consciously remember or recall radio’s spots? Memory? Recall? “Don’ need no stinking memory or recall.” Not remotely required. Exciting, though, when it does happen.

We are, then, reprieved. We are not released. More work is ahead. For further consideration: Well-crafted, effective spots are literally more like unconscious, post-hypnotic suggestions than are the Svengali-like, brutish commands we regularly employ. Those demands belong to the realm of and are to be administered only by cruel, but nattily attired authoritarians. (Snap!)
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Mon Oct 10, 2016 6:20 am

The Influence Peddlers
The activity of “reading minds” makes for a lousy hobby and a worse occupation. This is because we lay people can’t do it. The ones who can – the professionals – are already ensconced where they can make a very nice living – Las Vegas. The rest of us are rank amateurs – dabblers. Radio is rife with mind-reading amateur efforts in the spots and in on-air deliveries. They must figure they’re pretty good at it, too, as they keep on doing it.

A widely-accepted psychological adage has been: “If you want to know what somebody believes, ignore what they say. Watch what they do! Or fail to do!” Even when I don my H/R cap, I find I have to pay very close attention. People can speak with such sincerity and assurance of their own positions that it can be extremely difficult to avoid accepting that speaker’s verbal offerings as anything less than authentic. In other words: People believe their own stuff, and listeners are easily swayed.

So it is with what is presented on the radio. Generally, audiences accept what is being said with a grain of salt and without a lot of conscious resistance. But, and this is a large “but”. Alarm bells – unconscious alarm bells - are going off all over the place and every day! This phenomenon is sometimes referred to as the “bull**** detector”. Yes, sometimes audiences will reach a conscious threshold of what they can tolerate and will start yelling at the radio and/or tune out altogether.

Meanwhile, radio has a “prime directive” - whether acknowledged or not. This is not a discussion or a debate. This is a categorical statement. The directive is as follows: “To influence audience members to support our advertisers.” When we fail to focus on that, and we do, we are just goofing off – fooling around. Everything else, while necessary, only represents preparatory endeavours. These include the attempts at attracting and holding audiences in large numbers and for extended periods of time.

If our responsibilities can be described in similar terms as the old Ford positioning statement, they would be narrowed down to the requirement to influence audience members to respond to our advertisers’ messages and be identified as “Job 1!” Comparatively, everything else would be about as important as complimentary beverages, balloons for the kiddies, wall tapestries and air fresheners.

A stranger from out-of-town, out-of-state, out-of country or off-planet would be forgiven for wondering why it is that radio refuses to make every possible effort to improve the quality of its commercial content. Might as well throw in the lack of quality of the on-air presenters, and radio’s refusal to address that element, as well.

Most of my lifelong friends have been connected to radio. So, I know they are not dummies. But, they are crazy! They have been working in the glue rooms for way too long. The fumes got to them. They’re nuts. They stagger around the stations – those who are still in the business – under the impression that shoddy on-air performances and low-grade spots are not only “normal” – they are also tolerable, even acceptable. Many of them are operating as if, generally, everything is just hunky dory.

There is little doubt that while most corporate radio ownerships bleat, bawl, wave their banners and beat their chests, they are also wrecked, crippled – and crazed. Different rooms. Same glue. Based on behaviours and the lack of them, these larger outfits are demonstrating belief-sets that include a combination of: 1. A belief that it is unnecessary to redevelop on-air and local ad production – a position with which they have been saddled - likely because they don’t know what to do to rectify this tawdry and toxic situation. And, 2. A belief that a combination of increased sales efficiencies and arriving technologies will take care of any limitations under which the industry has been operating for some decades. Smaller outfits and local O&O’s are functioning, essentially, with the same beliefs and are using the same templates.

Meanwhile, back to the “prime directive”. The rumour is: Advertisers pay radio stations to get audiences to perform certain behaviours. These would include getting listeners to show up at the advertisers’ places of business – and to purchase stuff. These are not unreasonable requests on the part of advertisers. If they would rather throw money into dark holes, they would buy larger boats.

Radio, meanwhile, even as it is being operated today, can demonstrate some interesting, but nebulous, returns on investment. I accept that ROI’s for radio can be, indeed, fairly impressive much/some of the time. AE’s are continuously telling that story or, to be fair – sharing that information. Practitioners, I suspect, will agree that whatever ROI’s are being demonstrated are done so with shoddy, third-rate messaging. I encourage readers to imagine the possibilities. I submit they are breathtaking in their scope.

Everything I have been discussing here has to do with radio’s internal issues. Outside influences from other media are of no account, and it is just as well. We can’t do anything about what “the other guys” are up to. Still, radio’s inability and unwillingness to take action on these issues indicate a massive loss of incredible potentials.

The “prime directive” demands that we start generating more listenable, more interesting, entertaining and far more influential commercials than ever before - if we are to make any inroads as an industry. Failing that is a rejection of our opportunities and our responsibilities.

For radio to be successful in years to come, it is essential we start to think of ourselves, first, as “influence peddlers”. Preparing effective commercial messaging has got to be the primary concern, closely followed by our on-air, “live & local” presentations. Accomplishing this will take re-educated and skilled professionals. An AE writing a script on a table napkin is not enough. Attending to these matters will also assist in the efforts to get more people listening for longer. Belief-sets will have to change. Otherwise, the required improvements will not.
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Fri Oct 21, 2016 6:17 am

Dishwashing – The Radio Way
In a recent RadioInk article, the owners of Lifelock were over the top in their praise of and solid belief in radio as their go-to advertising medium. Radio practitioners always take heart anytime advertisers experience and report spectacular results. It needs to be noted, however, that Lifelock took control of the creative and the delivery of the talent who were presenting the messages.

I suppose I could be criticized for being the guy who seeks out and finds powerfully destructive wind shears in otherwise puffy, cumulus (sorry) clouds – huffing along in all their cotton-candy candescence. As an experienced radio participant and personal coach, I encourage readers to expect the obvious.

Marshall McLuhan is misquoted as having said, “The medium is the message.”

What he actually said was, “The medium is the massage.” No matter. (Sticklers will still insist on the distinction.) The point to be taken away from the Lifelock experience is their attention to the messaging and the messengers – two sides of a golden coin.

Most observers will agree that, day-to-day, those message/messenger elements are the last to be addressed – if any attention is paid to them at all. After a quick search of the building, it can easily be determined that the majority of creative departments have been decimated. And that happened so long ago, there are no smouldering ruins. The areas have all been policed up nicely and swept clean.

The Lifelock experience, while impressive and satisfactory for everybody involved, does not represent a huge WIN for radio. The people at Lifelock took responsibility for and control of, not only the buys, but the creative, as well. This isn’t newsworthy as many advertisers are represented by agencies that take care of all that. Certain stations get to be part of the “buy”. The “win” got mailed in.

Radio does work - sometimes extremely well. We can agree that those times when the buy is “iffy” and/or the messaging is second or third-rate, an advertiser’s ROI is going to suffer. So, if we want radio to KILL – we need to start paying attention to the size and scheduling of the buy. Equally as important, we must pay attention to the messaging.

The dynamic that has certainly been stifling radio – some might say, “crippling” – has always been about the messaging, both on-air and out of the creative departments. Even 30 and 40 years ago when every large station had a minimum of 12 “live” on-air presenters (not enough) and a half dozen writers toiling over their scalding-hot IBM Selectrics or Remingtons, the quality of the product was still, more often than not, of the questionable variety.

Writers were forced by a combination of corny but very real advertiser expectations, time constraints of traffic deadlines and stacked up production schedules. All of this resulted in fewer opportunities to develop actual “creative”. Instead, easily produced, cliché-ridden, hacked out drivel had to suffice in order to keep the writers and producers from passing out from overwork. The mind-numbing frustration was an understood and necessarily tolerated part of the job. (A spot that was creative, and that got through the system was cause for celebration.)

Fast-forward to today. Radio continues to be steadfast in its refusal to address the “messaging” and the “messengers”. That evidence should have to be provided is redundant, and an insulting exercise. Is there anyone in this readership who would even dare to openly defend the communicative status quo? It hasn’t happened yet.

That most commercial ad productions are of the shoddiest kind and that on-air presenters have been lobotomized, neutered and shackled to short chains is not ever challenged. The rarity of exceptional spots and the lack of stellar on-air personalities only demonstrate and reinforce the point. Nobody is made happy about it, either.

As anyone who has tried to wash dishes in cold water knows: That method immediately guarantees a distasteful, grungy and wholly inefficient experience. And we won’t even discuss the resultant, gnarly “dishpan hands” syndrome. Yet, that’s exactly what radio is practicing! Radio’s refusal to address the communicative aspects of the medium is an abject failure to add the “Dawn” dish detergent to a sink of hot water! There will be no grease-cutting here, and no squeaky and sparkling finishes. Food-goop will be left on the plates and cutlery. Plus, after draining, the sink will always be ringed with a slimy crud.

The Lifelock crew, on the other hand, brought their own “Dawn”. They also regularly coach their dishwashers – those personalities who are delivering the messages. Those stations that are participating in the buy, while legitimately earning the numbers to qualify, can be lumped into the “Lucky” category – good billings and nothing else to do.

Meanwhile, I regularly insist that radio’s reluctance to make massive improvements in the communicative elements of the business represents a titanic loss of opportunities. This also borders on – because of the callous and knowing mistreatment of advertisers and audiences – a dereliction of duty.

iHeart and Cumulus (The Two Big Blunders), while not exclusive, do take a lead on these failures to perform. They continue to set the bar on what is or isn’t acceptable, corporate radio behavior. Every morning, they set off smoke grenades and water-bomb tons of red herrings all over the radio environments in order to dissuade everybody from addressing more important matters. “Sowing Panic, Confusion and Inactivity” are, indeed, the orders-of-the-day.

Now, I am willing to cut a little slack for those who have yet to even considered these issues as “matters of consequence”. Some, almost but not exclusively in sales, refer to this as “the small stuff”. They do themselves and the business a great disservice. After all, there are no other elements other than what we say and how we say it over which we have complete control - especially at the local stations. But, so long as cold-water dishwashing remains in play, many of our invited guests (advertisers and audiences) will continue being grossed out by the tables we set.
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Thu Oct 27, 2016 7:19 am

Radio’s (Unlikely) Paradigm Shift
As provided in a recent RadioInk report, Neilson numbers suggest that radio still enjoys a significant advantage over other electronic media in audience penetration. Depending on demographics, radio apparently continues to attract 90-95 percent of available audience. While no longer newsworthy, the stats may yet be useful to some AE’s. So, what’s next?

Some thoughtful and astute radio practitioners, however, will also appreciate there is still a sphincter-tight vacuum in the radio/advertiser/audience dynamic. Some might accept the previous as a kinder, more soothing expression of the following: “Radio still suffers from a gaping, sucking chest wound!”

The most bizarre extension of this (proposed) reality lies in that radio refuses to call in an EMS unit and prepare for transport to the hospital. One can only presume that quarts of morphine are being self-injected – pain control writ large. Unfortunately, such a massive drug intake also contributes to the suppression of critical thinking capacities.

I have yet to read, hear or receive any messages from the beyond that insist how radio’s “live” on-air presentations and locally produced commercial content are superlative in any way. The rare, exceptional personalities only demonstrate a lack of performances emanating from the rest. One must presume this circumstance is more than acceptable to an overwhelming number of owners and managers.

I have to conclude this malaise and the tolerance for such shoddy work from the on-air and creative staffs is also an acceptable position to the troops themselves. If not, they aren’t saying much. Perhaps this is an understandable circumstance as few of these folks would be into direct, conscious self-immolation. Keeping their phoney-baloney jobs does rank up there as a reason to keep their traps shut.

This description, I realize, is tantamount to accusing radio’s leadership of manifesting degrees of missing, situational awareness and confusion. The elements required for maintaining such a “we’re alright the way we are” position would include distorted and delusional thinking, refusals to consider the matter at all, ingestion of large quantities of drugs (see: morphine) and/or a complete lack of awareness of the already-existing and likely, future consequences.

While I expect there are other industries out here that behave in similar manners, radio is the one that is best known to me. As such, I can speculate and claim radio still refuses to improve its products and services. In fact, radio has gone out of its way to suppress, limit and otherwise sabotage its capacity to make such improvements. The result: Over the last decades, the quality of on-air deliveries and the entertainment value and influence of locally produced ads has dropped – significantly. Plus, the potentials to even attempt the required improvements have been escorted from the building.

I am obliged, meanwhile, to acknowledge the odd cluster or single stick operations that are doing quite nicely – while providing enjoyable environments for their staff. I want to work with them, as well. They would be delivering at least semi-acceptable results for their audiences and advertisers. This, by no means, is a suggestion they are “off the hook”. They, too, fail to make the next, logical step by accepting their responsibilities and forcing massive improvements in their on-air and spot production capacities.

In this space, I have provided and explained a number of proven methodologies that address these very issues. (I have also withheld many more.) Rather than asking for more clarification, radio participants have jumped to so many contusions and provided so many arbitrary rejections that I wonder if some cult-like edicts are not being challenged. I retract that. Actually, I don’t wonder at all. Wholly accepted (by the industry) dogma and standard practices are, without question, not being internally challenged.

My responsibility is to provide practical, effective solutions. However, so long as radio refuses to accept that there exist substantial and debilitating problems that immediately require reasonable and applicable solutions, the chances of the issues being addressed are slim, to be sure. Radio, I believe, continues to hope that an increase in sales department efficiencies will be enough to get this stalled juggernaut moving again. Wouldn’t hurt.

Elsewhere, some outfits are taking the courageous step (acidic sarcasm intended) of throwing a couple more “live & local” talents on the air. Given the nebulous and questionable skills of many bolt-on “live” performers, more damage than good is likely to be generated. Plus, especially with music-intensive, sweep-saturated, phuster-clucked-spot stations, the programming-mandated, low on-air minutes and the few occasions in a given hour where a “live & local” performer might have any impact at all, absolutely limits the potential imfluence any of these presenters might have on an audience.

Now, I have already accepted that radio – as an industry – won’t be entertaining, never mind embracing, a paradigm shift in these areas any time soon. This is a symptom of a gross instability in the philosophical makeup of the business. AE-written spots and shackled ’bot-jocks are the norm. But, the shoddy products and the sub par, programming-induced performances do nothing to advance the medium’s effect as either an advertising or an entertainment platform. Nor have on-air staff been paying attention.

Without a program of intensive, at least short-term re-training, there will be no improvements in the products and services radio has been foisting on undeserving advertisers and audiences for decades. The status quo, while obviously tolerable and maybe even acceptable to many, will stay what it is. Radio’s communication model hasn’t changed before or since “payola” was an enticing income opportunity.

Even as Neilson still alleges (or demonstrates) a comparatively significant reach into the markets, it would not be unreasonable to query: “And so, what of it!?” That data can only generate a sigh of relief. The information does nothing to reinforce a need for additional behaviours – those behaviours that constitute a Paradigm Shift. That’s an “inside job”.
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Mon Oct 31, 2016 5:20 am

The Manchurian Audience
Very seldom, when I am visiting with old friends who are not involved in radio, do I bring up any of the material I discuss in this space. Somehow, I did touch on it when having a coffee with a good pal. He listened to some of the points I regularly make here, paused briefly and said, “Psy-Ops”.

As if there aren’t enough conspiracy theories out here to keep some people on edge and twitchy much of the time, I hesitated for quite a while before I decided to “confess”, so to speak, and confirm that yes, by definition, this information and methodologies I have been providing do, indeed, constitute a “psy-ops” program.

As I accept this representation as being somewhat accurate, I may as well go ahead and reframe the material I have been promulgating in a way that might encourage some individuals to reconsider – to re-evaluate what it is that so few of us in radio attempt to do. Most don’t. Most won’t. A few might. Avoidance of the issue does make radio far less “scary”.

While much of the industry maintains its viability and some even prosper, I submit the commercial radio field has been floundering – and for some decades. This assertive comment is relative to my other beliefs about radio’s – so far unrealized – potentials.

In other articles I have contended that local radio’s first order of business, its “prime directive” is to: Influence our audiences to support our advertisers. Gathering and holding larger audiences for longer periods is necessary. I accept the idea that doing so seems to be as important. But, if we are not prepared to serve the first priority, we are just messin’ around - while under serving our clients. (Listeners, too.)

The key word in the description of the prime directive I provided is “influence”. It is with that in mind that I arrive at the severest of criticisms of radio’s current model-of-communications. Radio has yet to even begin the dissection of how we communicate to our audiences. Radio’s leadership has yet to, systematically, consider how our communications are impacting on our audiences. We certainly have yet to seek out and consider more effective options – even as they do exist.

As a direct result of radio’s refusals to address these matters, we have the status quo – a system of second-rate, on-air and commercial presentations that are often, among others – boring, annoying, insulting, disingenuous, crude, invasive, authoritarian, superficial and, above all, less than effective. While a harsh indictment, I wait for any worthy challenges.

Meanwhile, I use the term “influence” mostly out of habit, and because it is a more socially acceptable word. There are other words that suggest similar intentions, among them: guide, sway, leverage, inform, persuade and coach. What I really mean to say and what is a more accurate description of our mandate and responsibility comes by applying the term “manipulate”! Now, I realize that, for most radio practitioners, “manipulate” seems just wayyy too strong. It can be disturbing to the sensitivities and sensibilities of many. It leads people to presume that a disturbing and extremely sinister force is being brought to bear. Possibly disconcerting premises and consequences may result.

I urge readers to consider the implications and, perhaps at some point, the clarity of this proposed, hasher reality. For decades I have said, “We (radio) are charged with and have an obligation to work for the betterment and success of those advertisers who buy our ads.” While contemporary radio’s legion of apologists will rise on their haunches to declare – with embarrassing certainty – that radio does, indeed, have the welfare of its advertisers as the priority, the evidence suggests everything but.

I acknowledge the intentions and sincerity of those who rush to defend radio’s status quo. However, almost every astute practitioner also realizes that the very last elements of a broadcast day to be addressed are the work of the on-air presenters and, more importantly, the quality and influence of locally produced commercial content. Whether local advertisers, AE's or stations' creative personnel are writing the scripts makes no difference.

Meanwhile, people remember the plot of the movie “The Manchurian Candidate” – the story of an individual who was captured and cruelly brainwashed to, in future, demonstrate certain behaviours when a stimulus (The Queen of Diamonds playing card) was presented. The individual was also rendered an amnesiac. Terrifying implications, those.

Let it be understood: For decades, large, successful ad agencies have been applying precise, linguistic techniques to their productions that would stagger most of us in radio – if we only knew what they were up to. Dozens of books have been published over the last decades that deal with just such techniques and strategies. Granted, none of these were best-selling page-turners. But they are available, and techniques are being applied.

I also understand there have been, and are, many people toiling in radio today, who are taking the position that spots only need to: make price comparisons, some quality claims and also supply a call-to-action (“Buy it today!”). Anything else that smacks of “manipulation” – usually unconscious – invites charges of particularly seditious forms of immorality. I struggled with that one much earlier on. (I’m feeling much better now.)

Many audience members are, I believe, sophisticated enough to know that any time they are exposed to commercial content, attempts are being clearly and openly made to persuade them to buy products, do things or believe stuff that they wouldn’t necessarily buy, do or believe - of their own accords. Accepting this position means: It’s “open season” on the cranial parts of we, the unwashed consumers. ("Caveat emptor" makes for a great statement of plausible deniability.)

Practitioners married to the former position can and will continue to generate anemic messaging - as they always have. Others, however, could realize there are opportunities, maybe even responsibilities, to be more effective, compelling and yes, sneaky. Manchurian Audiences are available everywhere.
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Mon Nov 14, 2016 7:11 am

Radio’s (Un)Comfortable Pew
Pierre Berton, a Canadian historian, author and national broadcasting icon, wrote a book in the mid ‘60’s, “The Comfortable Pew”. It began as a report commissioned by The Anglican Church of Canada. As a book, however, it was a blistering critique of The Anglican Church that rent the fabric off the status quo while accusing the organization of a corrupting form of relativism. He also decried the practice of “churchiness”.

Unlike many modern secularists, Mr. Berton shied away from challenges to any of the core beliefs of The Church. He was a member! He did not withhold condemnations of philosophical positions. Among other important conclusions, he was solidly critical of how the declining congregations, having not actually lost their faiths, yet were demonstrating little or no zeal for the church’s edicts, dogma and liturgies. Most were simply going along to get along. Some called them “Caspar Milquetoast Christians”.

Maybe 15 years later when I was doing “talk radio”, I had occasion to visit with Mr. Berton. A discussion of the book came up. He was delighted to point out the irony in the title. Anybody who has spent an hour or so in a standard, unpadded church pew – and what with all the fidgeting and bobbing and squirming around in attempts to relieve “numb bum” - will appreciate there was nothing at all comfortable about those pews. But, there the faithful (or unconvinced) regularly perched.

As an analogy, I submit to astute practitioners that radio finds itself in a similar circumstance. A set of business practices, philosophical positions, communications models and the required, but still stilted behaviors of the on-air and creative corps have been hewn from raw, somewhat suspect materials. and have become mandated by radio’s leadership. These are all to be believed and followed - without questions.

In my most recent, I introduced the disconcerting reframe that our (radio’s) core responsibility was to manipulate the hearts and minds of our audiences on behalf of our advertisers. Gaining and maintaining an audience could be placed either before or aft of the premise. At some point, though, generating effective advertising still becomes the primary need and concern. While perhaps chilling, This is The Job!

I have always asserted that the information – techniques, strategies and methodologies for accomplishing the generation of much more effective radio advertising (and on-air presentations) has been available for some decades. The more courageous of readers could begin with a single online search of “psycholinguistics”. Just that one, alone, is enough to send even a literate individual screaming into the night – babbling and drooling. Warning: Considering even some of these materials is to cross the Rubicon.

My part in all this came about as I was studying and training to do H/R work – a field where precise and effective communications are essential. As I was already about 15 years into my radio career, I could do no other than to consider how, specifically, this information could also be applied to broadcast communications. So, I sorted through the materials, collated the most useful, appropriate and, most importantly, that which could be easily learned by radio practitioners. I began inserting the techniques into the show.

As I became more adept at applying the strategies – both on-the-air and in the writing of commercial copy, I was able to discern that which was too cumbersome, too sinister or obviously manipulative, or was too subtle to make much of a difference on most broadcast elements. Again I stress: Making the material accessible while maintaining a (relative) ease of learning was key in the collating of the material. My “discovery” of these materials constituted one of the great “a-ha!” experiences of my life. (To be more candid, it was more like a “Holy S***!!” episode.)

The realization that some major ad agencies have been all over these techniques for decades may, but shouldn’t really come as much of a shock. While local radio, completely to my knowledge, has ignored all of this, a number of larger agencies understand their mandate perfectly: Influence/manipulate consumers to buy, do or believe that which they weren’t going to buy, do or believe all by their own damn se’fs. Fat invoices, as we know, are inserted immediately. (“And, so can you!!”)

Radio’s current approach to audiences – as a separate practice - and on behalf of our advertisers remains wastefully and horribly superficial, at best. The plethora of ‘bot-jocks and crude, authoritarian, presumptive and content-laden ad scripts stand as ample evidence of the proposition. I receive no cogent challenges on any of these points.

Our responsibility, I suggest, is to engage our audiences with the full powers of our (as yet unrealized) influential potentials. While the sales departments seem to be involved in ongoing processes to improve their results, the effects and results they want/need to represent are, mostly, unavailable. Programming has, indeed, gone AWOL.

Some very bright and successful broadcasters understandably lament about the lack of appealing and effective on-air personalities. (Programming ‘bot-jocks would do that.) They realize the obvious needs, but come up empty when scrounging for resources – both financial and in searches for a, hopefully, thinly-disguised talent corps.

While the odd gems might still be somewhere out here, the consensus remains that most of the superior talents (on-air and creative) have already been excommunicated. Newer recruits tend not to fall off turnip trucks. Any number of former or newer presenters could claim: “When being on-the-air or writing for radio becomes meaningful work for a grownup, I might consider it.” Re-training is still required.

Radio still has opportunities to step away from its tack-studded pew - to challenge its own liturgies and dogma. Radio, after all, is not a faith-based enterprise. There are no real or implied penalties for considering what else is possible, doable and more effective. A good hypnotist might make a suggestion: “…and broadcasters can - snap out of it!”
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Fri Nov 18, 2016 8:41 am

Letter To A Smart Copy Writer
After swapping a few very cordial emails with a well-known and credible salesman/copywriter, it was confirmed: He and I are operating, generally, from polarized models-of-communication for radio. Besides being an impressive, creative talent, he is very much a copywriting traditionalist. But then, so is everybody else. The copy edicts – the “givens” - are those I, too, have been hearing for decades.

“The Book” on copywriting was written a very long time ago – originally for the print medium. At the time, David Ogilvy and Marconi were still hanging out. The copy & paste transference of the material to broadcast was accepted as seamless, appropriate and effective. Few distinctions, if any, were made between print and radio. Since then, the principles have also gone completely unchallenged. “The Book” had become a hymnal.

Now, I would be foolish to argue all “typers of the hype” are writing copy that is utterly ineffective. (Radio does plod along without me.) My proposition is that copy - and on-air presentations - need to and can, drastically, be made more effective. My friend forwarded mp3’s of a dozen ads he had written. Here is a portion of my (edited) response:

“Having listened again to the mp3's, I can reiterate I was hearing the work of a talented and skilled practitioner of the trade. Plus, the creative twists were welcome and appreciated. I should point out that I am, much too often, voicing scripts that don't hold a candle to yours. What follows, then, is not a critique of your work. That would be insulting and of no practical use. I want to avoid all that.

Rather, I want to (very briefly) introduce to the conversation - a different and contemporary model. The traditional template could be labeled "Old School" – adhering to the set of copy writing, carved-in-store rules & regs on which we were both raised. The model I promote might then be (formally) called "The Whizzy, New, Advanced Model".

Please appreciate: I didn't pull this material out of my butt. It was not a revealed truth – no stereo voices from the lilac bush, either. I had already been a trained “Old School” radioman for about 15 years (on-air and copy) before crashing into these new materials.

I had begun studying to work as a counsellor. I was always intrigued by "mind stuff". The first shock came from my being piled high with texts on the complexity and power of language. I mean, I was already (supposedly) a "professional communicator". The reams of researched, rule-governed, tested and already successfully applied information demonstrated I was anything but. Nevertheless, I was absolutely thrilled when I realized this material could sound natural and be incredibly dynamic when transferred to radio.

I began applying the precise techniques, strategies and methodologies to my on-air and copywriting work - with extraordinary and spectacular results. I won't bore you with the "this is me diggin' me" specifics.

In a recent RadioInk piece, "Radio’s (Un)Comfortable Pew”, I invited readers to do an online search of just one portion of the material: "Psycholinguistics". That one introduction alone can send a writer scurrying for cover in much taller timber. Although there are many techniques - bold and nuanced, obvious and subtle - I will provide a couple of basic premises - as they apply to radio influencing listeners.

The First Big One (“You”)
Radio has never been able to single-out or identify any individual who is listening. The reality is: Many people are listening at any given time and we can't identify any of them - not in real time. The singular "you" becomes a jolt - an affront to their identity and space, particularly given that a direct connection to any listener has never been confirmed.

I do agree how the "you" tends to (briefly) get somebody's immediate attention as in: "He said 'you', so I guess that means me." Unfortunately, whatever message goes with the "you" almost always has nothing to do with the majority of listeners. I also point out that since the "you" shows up in every piece of copy and all the time, it's desired impact gets weakened – even annoying. No sane listeners ever accept the explicit intimacy.

I don't know everyone responsible for the original dogma - and that is what it has become – a series of unproven, unsubstantiated edicts. It is wholly inaccurate to claim radio is a "one-to-one medium". Nor is radio a direct medium. Rather, it is a “one-on-unspecified” – an indirect medium. Are listeners individuals? Certainly! But, we have made no connections. We address individuals as if we had - at our peril. Practically, Second Person ("You") is distorting and destructive! Without further, detailed explanation, the provided alternative is to go to Third Person. (More later.)

The Second Big One (“Do”)
Writers and on-air folks are constantly telling people what to do! We justify the practice by identifying it as a “call to action". Listeners who have never heard of a "call to action" are still getting smacked with "demands for behaviours". This element shows up in every writer’s copy. It's easy, expected and as natural as breathing. To a listener, although subtle and usually an unconscious process, it is still insulting and annoying. Where else in our culture, unless somebody is a cop, boss or a Mom, does anyone have the explicit authority to tell anybody else to do anything? Do jocks and copywriters get a pass? I think not. The demand can be as subtle as "Get 40% off." or as outrageously direct as "Do it today!" The quick solution is to: Imply everything. (More later.)
Meanwhile, I invite you to print this email and re-read it as hard copy. The reason: Print and electronic media have a completely different brain access!! (More later.)

So. Those are just two of the many planks making up this platform, this “New, Advanced, Whizzier Model”. Please appreciate the information also screwed me up for a good while - until I started implementing it, and began enjoying amazing results.”
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Thu Dec 01, 2016 11:17 pm

Salty, Soggy Copy
While swapping some emails discussing the business of copywriting, my friend – he of the “Old School”, and I - of the, shall I say, “Whizzy, New, Advanced and Superior School” were promoting very different approaches. Cranking out listenable and more effective scripts for our trusting advertisers was the stated, desired outcome. Clinging to outmoded ideologies, I submit, is not conducive to that outcome.

I have often observed that the copy I was practicing to read and write as a young, part-timer is identical to scripts I am reading today as a V/O-guy. The only marked difference is: The modern ones have had the decimal in the price points moved - one column to the right. Same-same copy for over 50 years! Staggering.

My friend pointed out a tradition of three words that were the most important in all radio copy. They were “new”, “free” and “you”. The other one I used to get – also handed down in tablet form - was “fresh”. Sincerity and certainty aside, these prescribed words I would categorize as “sandbox semantics”. Some might agree that while these words show up in copy a lot of the time and almost everywhere – especially the “you” – the impact is negligible. In the case of the “you”, I have always identified this as a dangerous and toxic use of the second person – more off-putting than appealing or effective.

We each had an opportunity to adjudicate the other’s copy. He sent me his and I re-wrote it. The content remained the same. Different linguistic processes were applied to my edits. His “creative” was left intact. Good stuff, too.

He pointed out some other edicts that have been handed down to copywriters ever since sandwich boards were considered high-tech advertising. Creative Directors have been skulking through their departments with riding crops always at the ready. They patrol for, shall I say, superfluous verbiage.

Radio copy has been gutted or stripped to the point where it has become little more than bland “newspaper-of-the-air”. Lists, price points and “calls to action” are still the orders of the day. These spots hide under the covering label of “direct response” ads. That these ads are almost-always abusive in their demands and insulting in their assumptions that actual contact has been established with unknown but still, somehow, “personal” listeners, has been exposed and vigorously criticized.

Harsh, unfounded edicts have defoliated scripts of all greenery. The living, advertising forest suffocates and dies, leaving only the raw materials for telephone poles. Insisting on the additions of extra price/product content eliminates more appealing, sensory and effective descriptions. This has always been a sin met with derision and cruel punishments.

Are simple adjectives, adverbs, verb tenses and sensory-based descriptions all that important, anyway? The short answer is: That’s all there is! But, to listen to standard-issue on-air presentations and second-rate examples of copywriting – very few practitioners have yet to even notice.

These are relatively small distinctions, meant only to briefly demonstrate how feeble our communicative efforts have been - and remain. That we disregard the magnificent potentials residing in the precise and imaginative use of our language to influence audiences leaves us anemic, benign and wanting. Audiences are not only meandering through our world - mostly unaffected. I believe they are also bored and irritated.

Radio’s state of communications can be figuratively compared to a decrepit, 3-masted, square-rigged hulk of a ship from the 18th century. Topsides may be freshly stained, but our tattered sails allow only for going before prevailing winds. (Triangular, more efficient sails had not yet been developed.) More importantly, our hulls have not been hauled out for half a century. We are fouled below the waterline - stricken with tons of grasping moss and barnacles, the result of which allows us to make only enough headway to barely maintain steerage. Plus, laying shipmates aloft in wildly heaving seas and heeling boats during angry storms generates unnecessary, avoidable risks.

What we say and how, specifically, we say it are the only aspects of radio that have yet to be conscientiously addressed. It is not frivolous to insist we are still on the verge of a marvelous voyage of discovery and prosperity. However, without a scraped hull, a skilled crew and stores for the trip, we leave port at our peril – a lubberly practice. J
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Sat Dec 17, 2016 9:50 am

Implied Small Market Causatives

Note: potentially boring content ahead. :hmph:

There are many small and medium market radio stations that are doing quite well. They are, I presume, thoroughly engaged in their communities while maintaining worthwhile relationships with local advertisers. Genuine human beings manage many of these organizations. Some have staffs that proudly fly the station’s colours. And yet, they have not begun to realize their own potentials.

They, too, hit their “snooze-buttons” many decades ago. Staggering about and broadcasting in a semi-somnambulistic state has become the norm - just one step shy of zombie behaviour. (Although and come to think of it, radio has been eating its own for quite some time.)

While major market stations are operating in similar, limiting situations - of their own making - the strategies the smaller market stations apply to communicate to their audiences also remain the same as those of over 50 years ago. Further, today there is a greater dearth of legitimate “personalities” on the air (and in the creative departments). Smaller market, on-air presenters who are still “live & local” continue to unknowingly suffer from their own debilitating approaches to their listeners.

Considering that every mechanic in every auto dealership in town is better trained in their field than all the presenters at all the local radio stations, any bleating, contrary assertions are difficult to consider or accept. Plus, the number of years someone has spent on the air supplies no evidence or assurances of quality, appeal or the abilities to generate desired results. “Sincerity” hardly addresses audience and advertiser-requirements.

Smaller market copywriters are still tagged with the same responsibilities as are the hype-typers working the majors. Their duty is, as well, to influence members of the audience. Smaller market practitioners do not get a “pass”. Nor do they have better excuses for producing shabby, third-rate copy. That the writer is a part-timer, a salesperson or the janitor is no justification for producing low quality goods.

Meanwhile, I have been asked to supply other examples of communication points. Most traditional copy is produced using this approach:

“When you need a used car, visit ‘Wacked-Out Wally’s Used Cars’ for a great deal!”

Readers will be forgiven if they consider that copy and ask, “So, what the hell is wrong with that!?”
Here, then, is what is going on with that communicative strategy:

- An assumption is being made by the writer/speaker that a connection already exists between an unidentified, individual audience member and the speaker.
- The still unidentified listener is actually being told to do something.
- The sentence is common and unappealing.
- An assumption is made that the listener has already come to a conclusion about their “need”. Some have. Some haven’t.
- The assumption is also made that the assumed need for a car is cause enough to head on over to Wally’s.

Here instead, is an alternate, subtle, yet powerful and more appealing example:

“When people realize they are driving clunkers and need a great deal, it’s time for an extremely satisfying visit to ‘Wacked-Out Wally’s Used Cars’.”

The alternate script does the following:

- The (unknown) listener can (by implication) identify with the need for another vehicle.
- They can (and do) assume a visit to Wally’s is now an option and not a demanded behavior.
- There is an implication that suggests thinking in terms of a “need”.
- A motivating emotional element is added.
- The sentences are more intricate and more interesting.
- The connection between the need and a trip to Wally’s is only implied.

When people are processing and generating language, we do so at an unconscious level. When guided, we will start considering the matter somewhat differently. Plus, when language is received through an electronic medium (radio) the exercise becomes even more complex. This, indeed, is more than “talkin’ on the sidewalk”.

Sometimes this material might seem to be banal, trifling – of little consequence. I assure readers that the last 35 years of applying the material to broadcast – on air and copywriting – along with the last 25 years as a personal counsellor, has resulted in astounding, cumulative results for my employers and clients. Applying the many other techniques, therefore, can result in a new, exciting and enormously influential era for radio.

Please note another “implied causative” in the following:
Because major ownership groups demonstrate a certain arrogance about how they operate, the first outfits likely to take action will be those that are mostly in the small-medium markets.

Ronald T. Robinson ("pave") 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 » Sat Jan 14, 2017 6:53 am

A Specific Strategy (And A Special Offer)
Radio, I submit, has yet to acknowledge or appreciate that superior forms of communicating to audiences – both for on-air and in the writing of copy – exist and are readily available. And when I say “superior”, I mean: more listenable, more appealing and more effective. Radio has made no shifts in how it communicates, especially with “direct response” ads. Those chaotic, corporate consolidations of yore crippled any chances of that.

Now, before issuing an exciting, special offer, I remember I did promise some further explanations of the methods I have been buffing in this space for quite some time.

The alternate to dropping the “you” from our on-air and copywriting approaches accomplishes a few worthwhile, important and more influential results.

To begin:
- Dropping the “you” eliminates the overt insistence that an unknown individual listener has been contacted directly – a deeply insulting and counter-productive piece of communicative business.
- The “you”, the use of which is so pervasive in radio as to never have been identified or challenged – requires other forms of the communicative process as more effective replacements.

To anyone willing to seriously consider the alternatives, an expanded world of options opens up. Not only are there more choices, every one of them is more listenable and powerful. This then, is an invitation to “the willing” to: Strap in and hang on – as things are about to get weird.

The relief from using the second person (“you”) is in the application of the “third person”. Those of us who can still dredge up our book-larnin’ days in grade school will remember “third person” as: a person, place or thing – specified or unspecified – singular or plural.

Here is a very simple second person-based (“you”) sentence:
“ You can easily think of a tasty cat.”
A third-person alternate that eliminates the “you” could be:
“Anyone (someone, a person, a listener, an individual etc.) can easily think of a tasty cat.”

Now, for a reader or a listener to understand and derive some meaning from both of those sentences, they are I]required[/I] to go through a language-processing behavior that is automatic - and is accomplished at the unconscious level.

The high falutin’ term for this process is: “Transderivational Search”. The (TDS) process is also understood by transformational grammarians, in the field of psycholinguitics, clinical hypnosis, by the neuro linguistic-gang and by some high-end ad agencies.

A reader/listener, in order to begin understanding the sentence, is, first, compelled to generate some internal representation of a “cat”. When no other contexts or modifying or descriptive words are supplied, the possibilities for each individual listener/reader are endless – and likely unique for each person.

But then, there is that pesky ambiguity “tasty”. Is that a reference to a cat with “class”, or is it about a cat that is delicious coming off a fork? Unless more information is provided, that determination will come only from the individual who is processing the sentence. And it gets stranger still. I could have said:
“Even a cabbage can easily think of a tasty cat.”
While ridiculous as a real-life prospect, a listener/reader will still have to go through the TDS process to get their unique, internal representation of some particular cat. And it will be a different cat from others that will be generated by different individuals.

While the examples could continue, this TDS process eliminates any need or practical use of the pervasive, unconnected, intrusive and resented application of second person (“you”). People will process the sentences!

Now, I am eager to provide a unique demonstration through a worthwhile, affordable and feel-good opportunity.
I propose I take a piece of station-supplied, advertiser copy (30seconds – direct response or otherwise) and voice it – as it is written.
Next, I will re-write the copy – applying techniques I have been promoting - and voice that, as well.
Audios will be delivered as mp3 and wav files along with the re-written copy.
All for just $75.00 - less than the price of a small rock in a leather pouch!
(Plus, any requested adjustments to the read on the original copy will be made - at no charge.)

A/B’ing the spots provides a much better situation in which to hear, see and get a sense of the differences while promoting far more satisfying and rational distinctions. A demonstration, after all, is stronger than an article.
I can be contacted today at: info@voicetalentguy.com

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 Feb 06, 2017 7:38 am

Radio Does Not Have An Effective, Specific Strategy – (cont)
Radio, I contend, continues in its refusal to address the communication model it has held and protected – sometimes viciously - for decades. Radio has been unable to define, never mind successfully defend, the premises and dogma on which it has been running - forever. Is it any wonder, then, that ownership and management place almost all available resources on Sales?

The holy grail of radio has always been the “one-to-one” superstitious mythology. Please appreciate: Nobody has ever been able to demonstrate, never mind prove, how the premise works or, more importantly, its utility. Radio newbies are told: “When you are on the air, pretend you are talking to a good friend.” Writers get the same instructions. Enter: “The Personal Listener”. In other words, “The Primary Delusion”.

The hook was set. The matter closed – never to be challenged again.
As every angler knows, a fish at the end of the line has just had its mobility drastically inhibited. Plus, that fish will also be more at risk to its natural predators. Those who have seen video of a shark violently taking a catch just before it gets boated will agree that, for the shark, it was easy pickin’s. Radio, indeed, has a hook in its mouth. And it shows.

Radio musters a cadre of defenders of the pervasive dogma that makes up the current status quo. If the “one-to-one” premise is even (gawd ferbid) momentarily considered as potentially or partially false, attempts to exclaim that the only, albeit already rejected, solution would be to talk to an entire audience as a group. This is a false, uninformed and disruptive conclusion.

However, we are forced by rational reality to accept that any radio audience is made up of a large number – of individuals. It would be foolish, and a crude premise, to presume we are speaking TO that group. Practically, we are speaking AT an audience. And if we do it properly, each unknown, unspecified individual will process the content – [ias an individual/i].

Recently, I demonstrated how, through the linguistic process of “transderivational search” (TDS), every single listener is unconsciously forced to extrapolate an understanding of everything said on the radio, and every time. What makes those unconscious exercises easier to accomplish is the communicator’s ability to switch from a forced, direct second person (“you”) to an indirect, implied third person (anything else).

Part of the TDS process is also about each listener having a vague, conflicted intuition that the “you” can’t possibly be them. Besides, the rest of a presenter’s content usually has nothing to do with multiples of any specific, individual listener - and the mass “tune out” is well underway. This one TDS strategy solves the painfully destructive, single listener/group dichotomy! Woo-Hoo!


Readers who have made it this far may have prematurely concluded this material to be, essentially – nerdy, wordy and unworthy of consideration. Such a position disregards the fact that: The only element of radio we can influence and control, locally and/or corporately, is how we communicate to our audiences. But we don’t, and never have. And it shows.

Is it likely the top management of GE gets together and concentrates exclusively on getting the sales departments’ skill-sets up a notch or two? Or does somebody risk piping up, as an afterthought, saying, “Anybody keeping track of that jet engine thingy?” Uh, no. The quality of their GE’s products gets the priority. The quality of radio’s on-air and creative services doesn’t even make it onto the agenda. And it shows.

I have learned (in other environments) how people suffer from “delusions”, “distortions” and “denial”. None are rare. When asked, individuals agree these are debilitating thought-experiences. (Lucky for them, these experiences always belong to somebody else!) Radio, however, does own them all.

Meanwhile, let me introduce another related, but still twisted item of radio dogma, that being, the admonition for on-air people to be “personal”. This is toxic nonsense – even allowing for good intentions. The more accurate and useful adage would be delivered as follows: “Be personable.” Huge distinction. Instead, we try to worm our way into audience members’ skulls by attempting to snuggle up to their individual identities. No listener thanks us for attempting to crash his or her unique, subjective realities with blunt, ineffective language. But, radio does it anyway. “We ain’t yet learned to talk good for the listeners, y’all.” And it shows.

(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 counselor. 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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