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 » Thu Feb 16, 2017 8:18 am

Radio Does Not Have An Effective Strategy (Part III)
From time to time, some very bright, experienced and sincere pundits will drop by with a set of admonishments about generating better ad copy for radio. I accept that many of the points have merit with all improvements on the banal, annoying and innocuous ad services being supplied by most of radio.

My first (rhetorical) question: It’s 60 years later and radio has yet to figure this stuff out!? This is rhetorical because most readers already have the answer. It is a sorry case, because radio has ignored the preparation of more listenable and, of greater importance, more influential spots. Radio has never made this a priority. Further, neither has radio made detailed inquiries into the on-air presentations of its talent.

Our friend, Bob McCurdy, is the most recent pro to recommend an overhaul of the methodologies of spot generation. Many of the points he makes have credibility with me. Others, not so much. But, at least and to his credit, he attempts to open another worthwhile and necessary discussion. My issue is that Bob’s ideas and efforts ignore the underlying fundamentals of broadcast communications.

Electronic media, of which radio is the senior medium, operates on a completely different set of proven, neurological accessing elements, and almost all are unknown to the radio group. Audiences access electronic media as a sub-dominant hemisphere, brain exercise. Print, meanwhile, is a dominant hemisphere access. While I have provided more detailed explanations of these phenomena, the takeaway for us is: Radio is operating under different rules. Some are exceptionally positive for radio and some are severely limiting.

Meanwhile, and I cannot overestimate this point: These neurological elements make the requirement of a fundamental re-assessing and implementation of new and different approaches to our ad creation and talent-presenting approaches.

That engaged, radio professionals call for significant improvements in the generations of ads and, I would add, the presentations of the on-air gang, can only be healthy and advantageous for the industry.

Presented in the most simple of terms, radio spots are required to accomplish, at least, the following:
1. Get and maintain audience attention.
2. Generate an emotional response from audience members.
3. Get the advertisers’ names and offer in there, as well – if they insist. J

Even if some radio practitioners make a solid, sincere effort to up their games as they apply to spot generation, a number of traps remain that would only add limitations to the results of the exercise.

Because of the aforementioned neurological accessing of radio by audience members, a couple of core and fundamental adjustments will have to be made. (There are many more.) They are intuitively challenging, mainly because they are not consistent with radio traditions and the (alleged) newness of the material is subject to suspicion and skepticism. I get that.

Radio is not a direct or a one-to-one medium. The justification for retaining that old assumption has been the accurate description of radio being heard by one pair of ears at a time, and at all times. In other words: a singular and subjective experience. I get that, too. The trouble under which radio toils is in the assumption that there is a connection to that unknown, unspecified listener. Radio never has, doesn’t now nor will it ever be able to accomplish that impossibility. Life, after all, is only experienced subjectively, and as an individual.

Another assumption that leadership has been making is that radio in general and the speaker in particular has the authority to make demands for behaviours from audience members. The only people who actually do have that kind of authority are cops, bosses, border guards and moms. Everybody else had better make nice or it’s “Bite me!”

Yes, it would be really nifty if radio started applying the many ways that commercial content can be improved. But, I continue to posit that unless the core and fundamental changes to radio’s approach, including the ones mentioned (above) are undertaken, any of the other improvements suggested will still be undermined and severely limited.

I agree that it is the content-heavy “direct response” ads that require immediate attention, especially since they represent the majority of radio’s ad presentations. Most of them, alas, have little or no “creativity” about them. Still, to be more effective, major adjustments must still be made – even as the “painting over rust” analogy still applies.


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 » Tue Feb 28, 2017 5:46 pm

What’s Normal Is Normal
Maybe my 50 years in radio (30 years on the air) and my general skepticism makes questionable my actual youthful exuberance for the potential of the medium. My brains might have been addled some, as well. I mean, any reasonable individual who takes on the task to re-direct the communicative aspects of radio is, practically, attempting to till a field of rocks with a broom.

I appreciate how at least half (my guess) of the people who are now plying the radio trade began their careers after the medium was crippled by consolidation, and was forced to endure the programming atrocities that came as a result. I remind myself how these folks may have no idea of what it was like when radio was “all live – all the time”, or when personalities in all day-parts were on the air from 10-14 minutes an hour, or when tunes were one-at-a-time and certainly no more than two back-to-back.

The phusterclucking of spots is a more recent, but still debilitating phenomenon that benefits no one – not audiences, not advertisers and, ultimately, not the stations. There is little in radio (besides an inarticulate boob on the air) that is more off-putting than a seemingly never ending series of poorly executed, banal, patronizing, insulting, authoritarian and annoying commercials. Any on-air “personalities” communicating at the same levels have earned and can expect a litany of criticisms.

Radio’s leadership have more than thrown out the baby. The bathwater, the basin and the faucets have all been jettisoned. And yet, after a couple of decades, it all seems so normal, especially to those who weren’t around and don’t realize they are participating in a very bad dream.

Now, before any reader assumes that I am leading up to a call to jump on a “way back” machine of sorts and return to those halcyon days of yore and radio lore, a sobering reality check is in order. It’s too late for that trip. The bus left a long time ago and, besides, most of the talent has already been crushed. What remains has become, again, “normal”, and as such, even tolerable.

More importantly, however, radio’s communicative status quo is held in such high esteem, it has also become defensible! The main defence of radio’s reality has been nothing more than wild assertions, sincere to be sure, but only as cogent as any position that is not backed up by evidence.

I have always claimed that radio is a magic medium – so powerful as to maintain its reach, its influence and ROI as an ad medium, and a significant loyalty from its listeners. All these attributes continue in spite of the internally imposed, self-destructive practices that are recognized to be in force, particularly by reasonable and considerate practitioners.

Radio is stagnant – unwilling to entertain those practices that could drive radio’s current position as the #5 ad medium into the stratosphere. Indeed, in recent times, research is being provided that demonstrates how radio is potentially in a marvelous situation. This information, however, is useless so long as the medium’s leadership stays in their gumboots – mired in the muck of tradition, dogma and denial.

Returning to “talent” – on air and in creative departments: It is my position that a massive and fundamental program of education be undertaken by those in leadership roles – corporate and individual – in order to take advantage of more modern and available strategies and methodologies of broadcast communications.

To put the situation in another way: I am satisfied the evidence of the practices of radio over the last 20 years and longer is conclusive, and points to generated shambles of which the responsibility can be laid at the feet of the consolidators. This has left the medium marking time up against a massive wall. Radio does not have the resources, the knowledge or the motivation to arrange for getting past this wall.

The opportunity to train the talent that exists and those who are coming into the business remains, but is likely to be ignored by the vast majority of owners and management. While those who subscribe to the idea of “live & local” are to be encouraged, a bulging and more costly danger is presented. It would be a mistake to simply throw anybody with a pulse on the air only for the purpose of filling a day part. What is required is a new, more listenable and more influential “normal”.


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

Postby pave » Mon Mar 06, 2017 7:26 am

Language On Life Support
Sometimes, pushing this “talking-rock” is like pulling my own teeth with a string and the handle of a door I can slam. The Tooth Fairy’s puny payouts hardly made such a premature exercise worthwhile. That excruciating (apparently there was a better method) experience was one reason for my conversion to Easter Bunnyism. I ultimately let that one go, too, because the returns on my emotional investment were negligible. I was credulous, to be sure, but I also found out the delivery of chocolates and candy was outsourced.

Radio, I submit, is continuing with behaviours and is demonstrating attitudes that are akin to membership in the EB-cult. Radio, for the most part, is made up of the moderates – those who go along with the ingrained or imprinted traditions; keep their heads down and who also realize the diminishing returns that come from challenging any of the litany of radio’s vaunted edicts. Then, there are those who won’t make challenges because the distinctions are well outside their awareness.

The majorities of practitioners who have anything to do with the verbiage we are presenting on-the-air and in our copywriting have yet to even begin studying the fundamentals – never mind the nuances – of broadcast communications. Rather, it’s more likely the adherents to this radio-cult will come out roaring and swinging against anything to which they don’t cotton. They also refuse to make any inquires.

And so, the annoying banality continues – on air and from the local copy departments. Plus, sped-up, helium-sucking, legal disclaimers are just the cherries plopped on top of all that extraordinary goodness, dripping from each rich, delightful, creamy dairy-based earful of standard, stellar ad-content.

Only lucky are those in radio who still enjoy the innate, unexplored, unexplained power of radio – a power so extraordinary that listeners’ critical, thinking faculties are bypassed, and where emotionalism is the main factor for influencing those audiences. Yet, radio’s leadership keeps insisting that the ads be of the authoritative, content-heavy variety and, as such, burden themselves with the responsibility for those ads being less influential than they could be or should be.

But, as with Easter Bunnyism, the status quo is accepted, promulgated and defended – at all costs – even as throwing in with the status quo is still delivering only around 7% of available revenue. I am not impressed. This is not a medium that is firing on all cylinders. I mean, not only have we failed in larnin’ to talk good, it never occurs to people that a whole range of communications above a basic use of English is also available.

A juicy example of the former is in an impressive and articulate article from Roy (The Wiz) Williams. In glowing terms and precise syntax he demonstrated how the use of metaphors is so much more interesting, engaging and influential when addressing a radio audience. After reading the piece, my first response was, “Preach it, Brother Roy!” My second, more considered response was, “Fat freakin’ chance, Roy.” Both Easter Bunnyists and radio cultists do not accept metaphors. These take too much time to develop, and this results in less time for products, prices and the obligatory “Don’t miss it!” And besides, “Metaphors don’t work, anyway.” Just ask anybody with long, floppy ears, a puffy tail and who is packin’ the radio hymnal.

Meanwhile, I am part way through reading an actual book (hard copy) about DNA. Among other things, I have learned the following. 1. If I had to take an exam today, I would flunk out. 2. The rice genome contains between 42,000 and 63,000 genes whereas the human genome is estimated to contain between a mere 30,000 to 40,000 genes. (Maybe instead of eating a bowl of rice, I should be asking the grains some complex, important questions.) 3. Genetics also has related equivalencies with mathematics, music and linguistics! For us, that means our methods of communicating to a broadcast audience have many gaps, chasms and sheer cliffs. Or, as Noam Chomsky once said: “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.” And who, I wonder, is going to argue with that? Not I.

I am, however, delighted when well-versed radio professionals step to the fore – lining up as we do for unlettered and uniformed abuse – to call for drastic, immediate improvements in the medium. The backhanded benefit - provided by cranky, stuck-in-the-dogma detractors who drool behind anonymous troll-handles - is that other readers might start making some comparative judgments. Bunny-esque cultists will not be saving the language or the future for radio.


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

Postby pave » Mon Mar 13, 2017 6:33 am

Defining The Negative In Radio

Reader Alert: Language lesson ahead.

Almost all language delivered on the radio is made up of some combination of: The natural, intuitive speaking habits of the writer or the presenter, and any acquired forms of speaking based on radio’s long-held but sloppily-acquired and unchallenged traditions. These would also include the factors of tempo, speed, volume, intensities, range, pauses and tonality. Only peripheral and occasional attention or practice has been devoted to any of these elements.

One of the many components of radio communications that has, I suspect, never been addressed is the use of the many forms of the negative. It is the case where we, as natural speakers of the language, have always used the negative in our everyday speech and, of course, we use it on the air and in copywriting, as well.

Since a personal, subjective experience can make for a more useful learning experience, I invite readers to participate in the following exercise.

My first request is for the reader to direct their attention to making a mental picture of any small, brown dog. Next, change the colour of the dog to white. Some will construct a static photo of the pooch while others will have generated a video. The relative size of the image in the mind’s-eye will also be, comparatively, somewhat unique to each person.

The next part of the exercise is to go along with the following: Don’t make a mental image of any small, brown dog. And, don’t change the colour of the dog to white. Don’t’ make a static photo and don’t generate a video.

What happens? In a bizarre twist in our processing of our own language, the negative (“don’t”) becomes almost irrelevant. Those images are still being constructed even with direct instructions not to!

In an earlier piece, I introduced “Transderivational Search (TDS)” as a sophisticated process that every one of us goes through – in order to derive understanding and meaning of what we have just heard or read. This TDS process is an ongoing, automatic and unconscious behaviour that we must experience in order to understand.

Essentially, the process considers the entirety of a listener or reader’s life-experiences in order to find matching elements that will corroborate the content of the new sentences being provided. For example: Anyone with no exposure to winter skiing will have more limited choices when asked to develop an internal representation of different kinds of snow.

The questions for communicators then, are: What do I want a listener to experience internally? Do I want them to internally generate the exact opposite of what I am suggesting they avoid? How do I get away from that habitual, but still undesirable strategy?

Here are some standard, everyday uses of the negative – on the street and in radio:
- “Don’t miss it!" To understand that sentence, every listener must go through the unconscious process of coming up with internal experiences of what “missing it” would be.
- “Don’t worry!” The same principle applies.
- “Don’t drink/text/phone and drive.” People are required to internally access the experiences of drinking/texting/phoning while driving – just to understand the sentence.
So. What parts of the messages are being reinforced? They certainly won’t be the desired ones.

The fix is in stating the communicator’s intent. “Drive sober.” “Drive fully alert.” A more influential replacement for “don’t worry” is, essentially, a form of: “….and feel good.” Etcetera.

A local auto dealer is tagging all their spots with “Buy from us – with no regrets”. While a sincere statement, the listeners have no choice but to internally generate any number of regretful circumstances that might arise from buying at this dealership.

Some broadcasters might take the position that these are trifling matters. The danger, however, is in the fact that these approaches also have a cumulative and long-lasting effect.

Our language delivery practices are the last of radio’s elements that have yet to be developed. I am sure that most of radio’s ownership and leadership have never even considered these matters. And if they have, the evidence suggests they have no appreciation of how powerful a massive improvement in our communication methodologies would be to the future of the medium. Are we just an advertising platform that enjoys 7% of available revenue? Or, are we endeavouring to become effective “Communicators”?


(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 Mar 20, 2017 8:21 am

Content May Be Secondary

(At the risk of bloviatin’ ;-) … a short pre-ramble.)

Because I have noticed how only some attention has been paid to a phenomenon of radio of which I have been aware for decades, do I offer it up again – as a bonus that can be an extra asset to radio reps.

Radio, lucky for all concerned, is considered a “passive” medium. By that I mean: Listeners can actually chew gum, drive, wash dishes, do surgery and perform any number of tasks while having the radio on at the same time. The benefit of this is that listeners will also (as often as not) tolerate the commercials. There are limits, of course, and radio certainly exceeds them consistently. Still, radio enjoys a consumer-tolerance not found in other media.

People who are online can’t wait for the 4 seconds of the 30-second ads to pass before availing themselves of the option of blasting out of the spots, or instantly bashing the banner ads – in order to get to their desired material. The online experience, by comparison, is an “active” process and takes a user’s full attention to participate. Again I repeat: Lucky for us. (Thus endeth the pre-ramble.)

Meanwhile and as to the title:

The sincere but plaintiff wail for “content” goes on unabated. Pundits insist on the desperate need for more and better content. How to generate this content, who is going to deliver it and at what cost, particularly at the local level, goes unaddressed. Syndicated programming or smaller block features, I am satisfied, are less about providing better content than it is about sucking a little more lower-cost marrow from radio’s bones.

Now, philosophically and practically, I agree how more and better content certainly wouldn’t hurt, especially for those stations that are almost bereft of much that would qualify as “better content”. Even so, there is another element that usurps the priority stapled to “content”:

"Connecting" To Listeners

Generally, radio presumes and vigorously asserts it is already connecting with listeners. And, in some cases, it does. Rather, some individual “personalities” are successful at “connecting”. For the most part, however, and fundamentally, radio goes about its patronizing and maudlin communicative processes, and then labels these banal and anemic attempts “connecting”. Throwing breadcrumbs at a flock of seagulls, while generating a flurry of noisy activity, doesn’t do much to quell the appetites of hundreds and hundreds of hovering and diving birds. They are left hungry - and bitter. (Some observers have suggested sinister, seagull-plots are being hatched.)

Too often, on-air folks have been strangled so harshly, they come off sounding like they are straining to “connect” with cans of mixed vegetables. Although a little cruel, it may not be much of a stretch to suggest that some of these presenters are about to pass out from their own hunger - and lack of oxygen.

Audiences have no responsibility to connect to a performer. That burden is borne by the performers. It is up to the talent to be more listenable, more congenial, more informative, more entertaining and more credible. And as often, it is also up to the talent to be less authoritarian, less invasive, less confusing, less patronizing and less painfully predictable. I also acknowledge how talent has been suppressed so much over the last decades that they are in no position to act on those responsibilities mentioned above. Essentially, talent has been forced to wear 40-pound boots, and then ordered to fly.

As a lousy mind reader – just like everyone else – I can only speculate, although with some confidence, that ownership and management are completely unwilling to address the only element of radio over which they hold complete control – the forms our communicative methodologies take. They seem to be taking the position that everything about this matter is quite acceptable.even hunky dory, and that no particular improvements are necessary.

Based on what has been getting most of the attention lately, a more assertive telling of “the story” along with slicker sales techniques will launch radio back into a higher echelon of advertising media. This, I submit, is only a portion of a, necessarily needed, more complete and more fleshed-out strategy.

Radio, I further submit, is still in a position to exploit its potentials and the potentials of its performers and creative department staffs. Force-feeding extra, arbitrary content, while probably worthwhile, is still not nearly enough to make improvements of much distinction or value. Squabbling, dissatisfied and cynical seagulls are not particularly desirable or valuable companions. Connecting more powerfully to audiences is less about meat. It’s more about the secret sauce – and lots of it. Adding the connective "sauce" encourages otherwise famished radio audiences to chow down, enjoy and - to come back for more.


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

Postby pave » Fri Mar 31, 2017 5:58 am

Programming Brings The Bland
As the only “passive” commercial medium, radio is still getting more listening than it deserves – certainly more than it has earned. Instead of researching and exploiting this strangest of phenomenon, radio is also passive about its own potentials – and has been for decades.

I would go so far as to speculate that most of radio’s leadership is completely unaware of this most important of distinctions. Many others have been rejecting the concept even before giving it even the slightest of considerations. “Sales”, after all is not only the prime directive, it is the only directive. (“’Programming’ is somewhere down the hall.”)

Recently, I have been reading the pronouncements of a number of corporate PD’s. These are boys and girls who really should be aware of the history of their replicated edicts. As I read a collection of the demands handed down like they were gifts from the radio gods, I have to wonder if Programming is ever going to snap out of it and start generating useful, meaningful and appealing communications from the on-air and creative staffs – those that still remain.

Many of these PD’s continue to insist on an “intimacy” between the presenter and the listener. One claims the existence of a “friendship” Another maintains there is a “bond”. “Make me feel like it’s just you talking to me.” says one. This, of course, is all to be developed between an unknown speaker and an unknown listener. Even though this foolish and banal approach has been forced on talent as far back as when mechanical typewriters and mimeograph machines were the delivery technologies, no other challenges have been forthcoming. This poisonous approach, I submit, is only one of those that have been mangling the effectiveness of presenters and writers.

I have often made claims that radio’s dogma – its ideologies – have been failing consistently. But, I also understand that hanging on to ideologies precludes the necessity of further contemplation or the examination of evidence. Easier path, but barren all the same.

Meanwhile, PD’s continue to ramble with milquetoast philosophies and distorted psychological assumptions. Most recently, I have read the following:
- “Be yourself”. Rather than somebody else?
- “Stop reading to me.” As opposed to what – ad-libbing everything? Skilled communicators can make read copy seem like natural speech. That is, unless the copy overwhelms the concept, which is almost always.
- “Be unpredictable.” I gather this is all supposed to take place after a six-song sweep, after taking care of vacuous station promos and teasers, and just before an 8-spot phustercluck.
- “Take pride in ensuring that programming transitions are seamless.” I know what he is suggesting as well as some, but for those who don’t, a reasonable question would be “How, specifically?”
- “Trust your instincts.” This may be the most toxic of suggestions. Talent spends years having their instincts pulverized. Talent-in-chains have no room to express much of anything. Talent has been blown off for “thought crime”, fer cryin’ out loud. Besides, more than intuitions are required to become a more effective communicator. It takes knowledge and acquired skills. The opportunities to acquire these have never been supplied by radio’s leadership.


With the rare exception, on-air talent have, for decades, been forced to play in a 6x6 sandbox surrounded by 20-foot walls. One has to presume that any PD’s worth their salt are able to identify that which needs to be improved and have the chops to intervene appropriately and effectively, without coming off as authoritarian or patronizing.
As to “being yourself” and “trusting instincts”: One must also presume the talent has the personal acumen to accurately and subjectively, identify their own foibles - both mechanical and psychological. This is unlikely.

Most talent, I submit, already know they are shackled and screwed, and any attempts to manipulate them with innocuous pronouncements will only support any scepticims and suspicions that are already in place. Those in the talent-corps who do not recognize they are working with massive, corporate limitations will have already ingested the Kool-Aid.

These people need to be taught communicative skills, and they won’t acquire them through a process of osmosis. Personal contemplation will not suffice either. It is incumbent on a PD to supply useful, contemporary coaching – unless they are tied up changing the rolls in the washrooms. Anything less amounts to no more than another, hokey and traditional dance around radio’s mulberry bush.


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 » Tue Apr 04, 2017 9:27 pm

Appealing To The Other 2%
To my own discomfort, I am inclined to agree with the commentator who said, “In some contexts, we are all crazed primates.” I have also heard it put as “Monkeys with car keys.” Hardly complimentary. Although radio’s owners and management might respond with enraged vitriol, I submit the evidence of radio’s pervasive behaviours suggest they also agree with the premise. They treat listeners and some employees as though they, too, were much further down the evolutionary scale.

Even though we Homo sapiens share up to 98% of our DNA with chimpanzees, I demand that radio treat me a lot better than just tossing me a banana. Generally, radio communicates to me as if I was wearing a leash, a diaper, a tutu and a pair of roller skates. Meanwhile, demands I might make will have about as much impact on radio’s leadership as does “Bobo”’s screeching and nattering. Yet, the opportunity to reconsider how the generation of low-grade practices of audience-contact, of which radio is guilty, is always available.

Simian similarities aside, I not only think radio listeners deserve better, I also believe radio is consistently missing the potentials to be more listenable, influential and more prosperous. To my knowledge, Program Directors are doing almost nothing to consider or advance this proposed premise. Understandably, because most PD’s are also caught up in their own air shits, responding to inane comments on social media and doing some minor janitorial work, the best they can do as teachers and coaches is to read from the standard liturgy as provided from the notes of long-gone predecessors.

I do find it encouraging that some thoughtful people in radio sales and marketing are developing and providing access to some extremely worthwhile materials – all for the benefit of local spot-floggers. However, there is still the minefield of shabby creative yet to be negotiated.

PD’s, out of habit, tend to criticize their staffs on the obvious mechanics. Those on-air folks who can navigate half a minute or so, without fumbling or falling apart, are considered to be working “clean”. That their content might be innocuous, and more so, that their processes of communication would be ineffective and even insulting to listeners, is unlikely to come up during an air-check. PD’s, I have heard it argued, treat their on-air and creative staffs like they, too, were chimps who missed making the evolutionary leap. (“Now, take this banana and get back in your cage.”)

PD’s have yet to address even the fundamentals of radio communications. Fortunately for them, they also have a plausible deniability. They can accurately report they have no idea of what those “fundamentals” would be – never mind what form they would take or how to go about implementing them. Further, it would be unwise for them to start rattling their own tin cups on the bars of their cells. Yes, they too are in chains and behind bars. Their careers would be less in jeopardy if they were to just keep their mouths shut.

I am obliged to acknowledge the performances and appeal of many legitimate “personalities” who are slaving – successfully - over hot microphones. And I do so – joyfully. They are, however, the unique and the rare. Some are encouraged to walk among the “great unwashed”, as one of my own PD’s referenced audience members. Extraordinary talent can have amazing impacts on an audience. But, again, it still takes exceptional talent and skills, and they are among the most rare of birds, indeed.

It is the rank and file on-air presenters and writers who are used as cannon fodder – subjugated when they are engaged, easily replaced and not missed when they are gone. These are the folks who would benefit most from an education that concentrates on the fundamentals, and later, the nuances of becoming influential, listenable, appealing and influential radio communicators.

Again, I repeat: It’s a great thing that radio sales people are being brought up to speed.
Programming and staff, however, are being kept in the darker recesses of their cages. As such, they are also being kept uninformed, and becoming sinister in their frustrations. The missing 2% is required. Is it any wonder the most they can do is throw poop?


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 Apr 10, 2017 8:19 am

Can Radio Ever Get Better?
For the last while, I have been paying closer attention to the comments of younger, current PD’s, and to those of well-seasoned programmers - the wily veterans. To a man/woman, literally all of them continue to cling to some extremely old concepts. I am reminded of the terrified, scrambling, shipwrecked sailors, grasping the top of the mast as the safety and security of their ship slowly slips into the abyss of the salty brine, so to speak.

These programmers, I suspect, do not frame their positions as being anywhere near the “scrambling” or “grasping” positions to which I am alluding. To the contrary, they boldly stride into radio’s future absolutely certain about and comfortable with their positions being not only secure, but beneficial to the business of attracting and holding audiences. They also refuse to consider the efficacies of their positions as they relate to generating more influential, commercial copy.

They all continue to insist on the (still) wholly accepted “one-to-one” dynamic of radio. They are, however, required to do so by borrowing dynamics from every religion. That is to say, the one-to-one premise has to be akin to a faith-based position. This would be because there is absolutely no evidence to support, never mind prove the claim.

I wouldn’t know how many stations continue to take the one-to-one premise to the extreme by mounting a poster-sized representation of a single member of the “target audience” on the control room wall.

I was invited in by a GM to do afternoon drive at a station that was (loosely) targeted at women 25-54. The station was a ratings-wreck and the brunt of nasty jokes among other radio afficionados in the market, I had been amazingly successful previously at another station in the same market by applying the techniques and strategies I have been mentioning consistently in this space, so I had a certainty that massive improvements could be made at this outfit, as well. The station was owned by a major chain, and it was locked into the conditions as laid down by the corporate PD.

Walking into the control room for the first time, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a thirty-something woman - sporting executive gear. The poster was of a size that was impossible to ignore, and below it was the message, “Our Audience”. Around the station, this fantasized individual was also touted as “She Who Must Be Uber-Served”.

Since I wasn’t about to try to take over the joint and had no intentions of making existential trouble or generating angst by touting the strategies and methodologies I was about to apply, I made no stink about this ridiculous caricature. In my previous position (also afternoon drive), I applied all the principles I have been offering here. I told no one. Nor did anybody at the station ever catch on to the fact that I was doing things somewhat differently. They wrote it off to my being a “unique personality” and left it at that. And why would they not? All I did was dominate the market.

So, I began my association with this station. A month into it, one PD left and another one arrived – never a good sign since my deal with the GM might be (conveniently) overlooked. It was. Still, I continued applying the techniques and my own stellar, marvelous personality to the business of getting the day-part back on track.

Three months into the exercise, the PD invited me out for a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs on a Friday - just before my shift. He said I seemed to be doing a few things differently, but he couldn’t put his finger on any specifics. He seemed pleasant enough, so I thought I would, for the very first time, share just one of the elements. It was the warning of the one-to-one premise. This counter-productive condition, I explained, was subdued by the simple elimination of the “you” factor, while providing only third-person references.

I was called into the station early on Monday and given my pink slip. Monday night, The Book was released. Afternoon drive had gone from #8-women to #1. Men had gone from #12 to #1. No lessons were learned. Improvement was successfully avoided.


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

Postby pave » Mon Apr 17, 2017 5:33 am

Does “Creative” = Wasted Effort?
From time to time, a local station will crank out a brilliant piece of creative advertising. The staff will gather around, howling with delight while offering cudos all around. “Let’s enter it for an award!” they will exclaim. Sales people will hold their tongues and grudgingly wince out a qualified smile as they wonder to themselves: “Nice. But, will it sell anything?”

It can’t be effectively defended that a “direct response” ad won’t work – at least to some degree. Of course it will work – again, to some degree. It is also true that the copy for these ads can be pulled off a template and produced in just a few minutes. The advertisers want little else and audiences expect little else. The sales folks are also part of this unacknowledged agreement. They, too, expect little else. Some might enjoy a little “creative” to take to the street on occasion. But, they won’t be holding their breath either.

For “creative” to be appreciated and preferred, a number of elements have to be considered and understood, first. That these issues have yet to be put to bed, tucked in and kissed has always left me baffled. I have always flaunted the idea that properly constructing “creative” is a more effective approach to radio advertising. Neither have I spent the totality of my radio career in Rakabakastan.

My “thing” in this space has been about making huge improvements in the writing and delivery of those very same “direct response” ads – something else that radio refuses to consider, never mind undertake. I have also been promoting the idea that on-air presenters are, likewise, desperately in need of similar improvements.

Here then, is a reminder of what radio advertising must include in order to be as effective as possible.
- Gain and maintain audience attention. This is not as simple as it might seem. An audible beer-fart will get an audience’s attention. The challenge is about what happens after that.
- Generate an appropriate and previously chosen emotional response from the audience.
- And, if the advertiser is a stickler for such things, introduce the brand and/or the advertiser’s offer.

I believe most astute readers would agree that the capacity to accomplish all three of these (above) elements in a standard “direct response” ad is severely limited – right out of the chute. We are all stuck with the required, traditional form: “Tell ‘em who you are and how terrific you are. Tell ‘em what the ‘deal’ is. Tell ‘em how much it’s not going to cost. Tell ‘em to buy now. Then, tell ‘em again.

I accept the reality that even this banal, superficial, insulting and boorish approach has effects. This has been a radio’s bread & butter reality for many decades. Having made no significant improvements, if any, however, leaves radio exactly where we have been for those decades – stuck in the glue.

Radio is in a position to consider more and better sales-oriented materials. The potentials to improve on revenues through more effective sales presentations are improving on a regular basis. For some, that happenstance would be cause for relief, maybe even celebration.

The material that hits the air, however, has been carved and left in a small park on the side of the road as if it were a stone memorial for lost opportunities. Any station that can make even subtle improvements in the quality and influence of its locally produced commercial content will have access to even better results for its advertisers.

Creative radio commercials might be recognized, one day, as a gold standard and a necessary component of successfully effective radio advertising. However, this proposal has been discounted by the industry as no more than a cute, novelty strategy. “Creative is all right,” they would say. “as long as producing it doesn’t take up time and resources.”

The suppression of “creative” radio advertising is, I submit, also indicative of a more general approach to broadcast communications. Available, updated processes in the writing of “direct response” ads have also been bottom-shelved and forgotten in some recess of the janitorial supply room. The same can be said for the attention paid to the communication skills of the on-air folks.


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

Postby pave » Sun Apr 23, 2017 8:37 pm

Programming By Reading Minds
They are still at it. They can’t help themselves, and they just won’t stop. Recently, I have been paying closer attention to the pontifications of a number of radio programmers - people who really should know better. They are to the point where much of their rhetoric could be classified as “wishful muttering”. They continue to insist they are putting (alleged) facts to (alleged) truths.

The problem with this approach is that no “facts” have been conclusively demonstrated and that “truth” is offered as that which is self-evident and unassailable. Or else! It is a dangerous and doomed approach, and it begins with the non-existent capacity of programmers to mind-read audiences. Similar to a number of megaphone toting, sandwich board-wearing street preachers, they (the programmers) get up on their apple crates and commence to hollering - trying to yell over the ambient din.

I recently read the comments of a well-known programmer who opened by claiming he knew what audiences wanted! That’s “mind-reading” on a macro scale! I can reasonably say there are times when I don’t know what’s going on in my own mind – and some of the people I know would attest to that. I hardly, if ever, know what’s going on in my wife’s mind, and she will confirm that, too. How then, could I even begin to read the minds of thousands of radio station listeners? Station audiences, I suggest, do not operate like a bee or ant collective. Station audiences are made up of individuals and nobody, and I mean nobody is successfully reading their minds. (Anybody who can demonstrate such a skill has a nifty, little cult in his or her future.)

Meanwhile, as to programmers’ mind-reading claims:

Mind reading “fact” #1: “People perceive your personality as an interruption.”
What!? Which people? Which personality. When? Under what circumstances? Based on what? Even when that is the case in some contexts, some of the time, the “fix” is not camouflaging or suppressing the presenter.

Mind reading “fact” #2: “Music radio listeners don’t like sudden changes.”
What!? How would programmers know this, if not by mind reading? “Sudden” in what way, specifically? Others can effectively argue that a programming “jolt” is a more useful element.

Mind reading “fact” #3: Listeners appreciate the running of music beds under a presenter’s deliveries.”
A music bed under the presenter is supposed to accomplish what – make the station sound like it is seamless and flowing? How, I wonder, is that even useful, never mind appealing? I have been hearing this ridiculous strategy being applied for some time, and here is what happens: The talent’s pacing is locked-in and crippled by the arbitrary tempo of the music bed. Seamless? Appealing? How about mechanistic, irritating and insulting?

Mind reading “fact” #4 “Listeners will learn and enjoy your station’s most excellent programming strategies – designed with them in mind, of course – after repeated listenings.”
Well now, doggie! There’s a ton of mind reading and wishful thinking, delivered on a flatbed trailer. It’s also a representation of long-held radio dogma that “flow” and seemingly “seamless” delivery is absolutely essential to the survival of the station. Programmers continue to light candles at that shrine.
I have had a number of PD’s charge the control room when I have mis-played a tune out of rotation or when a spot-firing mechanism crapped out, or when I missed the button altogether, and created some dead air. I mean, these guys arrived at the board absolutely beside themselves, apoplectic and on the verge of self-detonation. I guess they were convinced that listeners were punching out of the station like rats caught in a warehouse fire. I wonder: Are such mortal sins still severely punished?

Mind reading fact #5: “Audiences will be more interested and engaged when presenters say more by speaking less.”
What!? I don’t even know what that means! (Actually, I do.) But, until communicators are taught how, specifically, to accomplish that, the edict is just more, frustrating white noise.

Another mind-reading assertion: Audiences are so gullible and credulous as to actually be positively motivated by any of these innocuous strategies. While there might be a little something-something to the former proposition, these are hardly worthy or useful premises on which to program a contemporary radio station.


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

Postby pave » Mon May 08, 2017 5:40 am

Programming’s Motivational Strategies
I can usually tell when a PD has run out of gas. They start providing motivational sessions – what we used to call “sparkle meetings”. When a PD can’t identify the distinctions about what makes an effective, on-air communicator (or writer) and the distinctions that limit the same staff, they have to switch to the “Sis-boom-bah”-mode.

“What you really need” they will assert. “Is drive, imagination, goals, tenacity, perseverance and, above all – teamwork!” While difficult to argue against, these edicts are still enough to make staffers puke – projectile vomiting is occasionally presented. “What you absolutely require” they will continue, “is a Hunger.”

It is, at this point, the senior members, those who have been around the business for a while, settle in, scootch down and prepare themselves for a lengthy litany of milquetoast adages, assertions and thoroughly uninspiring generalizations. “Where’s the beef?” indeed. More like, “Where’s the bun?” The smarter employees bring coffee to the grope and – medicate accordingly.

Since the majority of PD’s have nary a clue about the actual communicative aspects of being on the radio, they have little choice but to become amateur psychologists, motivational experts and nurse’s aids. They become character sleuths, readers of potentials and readers of tealeaves. But they do have access to some materials that might be of some use, I guess.

There have been allegations offered that what is missing from the makeup of the on-air and writing staffs is the aforementioned “Hunger”
- Hunger to dive in – without testing the waters?
- Hunger for more responsibilities, more work. At what cost and for what compensation or benefit?
- Hunger for more solutions and less excuses. Often, what are labeled “excuses” are actually - reasons.
- Hunger for personal improvement. Available within the confines of the corporate, radio environments? Seriously?
- Hunger to make a decent living. Good luck with that.

I have known a couple of PD’s – and sales types - that had no idea of what they were supposed to be doing. The next best approach, then, was in supplying the magic of the application of “affirmations”. And, I am serious about this. Most people are aware of the grandfather of affirmations – Psychologist, Emile Coue’s “Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better.” I understand: Who could argue against a little “positive autosuggestion”? Well, I shall explain the “whom” or rather the “what”.

Even when we are awake, alert and, sometimes, jacked up on caffeine or some other drug of choice, we are operating with both our conscious and unconscious faculties being fully functional – so far as that goes. Our consciousness has severe limitations, if it keeps us from walking into a wall or onto the street, we can be grateful that some consciousness component is on the job.

When we introduce a conscious affirmation to ourselves, often in front of a mirror and we do so in the present tense – “I am getting better and better.” – our Unconscious has to riffle through our historical experiences (“transderivational search’) to come up with some, a little - any corroborating evidence. When it can’t, the understanding of the Unconscious becomes one of “No you ain’t!”

Really Big Corporate Radio is so screwed. This isn’t because they can’t run a business. They can. It’s because the very fundamentals and priorities of their businesses are not being addressed. Hell, they are not even being considered. And there is a reason rather than an excuse for that, too. They have no idea what those priorities and fundamentals might be.

Learnin’ to talk good English and the approaches to doing so, along with the many nuances of speech, especially when delivered through an electronic medium, have yet to be folded into the mix. While the majority of on-air presenters, through no fault, necessarily, of their own, sound like they couldn’t pass a literacy test, they are also missing the educational opportunities that could take them to superior levels of communications. Such a step upward and forward can only result in greater staff effectiveness, influence and longer periods of listener attention

If there is to be a “hunger”, let it be for an appropriate, useful education. The stations’ ownership and management are the only ones in a position to provide it – if they knew what it was.


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
pave
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