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 Jun 29, 2017 5:17 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Postby pave » Mon Jul 10, 2017 3:33 am

The Programming Cupboard Is Now Bare

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

Postby pave » Mon Jul 17, 2017 4:14 am

Radio’s Missing Links

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Postby pave » Thu Jul 27, 2017 4:13 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Postby pave » Mon Aug 07, 2017 5:30 am

Radio’s Most Important Unanswered Question

I am obliged to accept the possibility that I simply may not have the faculties to process some forms of information. There is the assertion from so many in the population that dinosaurs wore saddles! That qualifies as a prime example of material that, if I were to seriously consider it for more than a few moments, I would certainly be reducing my brain to mush.

There are those in the highest echelons of radio ownership and management who not only believe that consolidation was a good thing, but that even more consolidation would be better! This is cause to put out an immediate and urgent “Brain Mooshing Alert”.

Even a proud, hubris-stuffed, Grade 8 graduate can figure out how self-serving a position that is. This is a position that disregards every last one of radio’s other stakeholders, which include: Audiences, advertisers, station staffs and, where applicable, shareholders.

Strategies that would lessen the costs of corporate radio can be bleated from the mountaintops. Confident expectations of acceptance, particularly by stressed-out minions are assured. But, it is, categorically, a flat-out disastrous position.

Readers are well aware of how radio is slipping ever lower on the list of desirable advertising media – in spite of evidence that the patient (radio) is not bleeding out on an ignored gurney beside a wall of a ward hallway.

Radio sales departments are being provided with excellent materials for presenting radio’s case, but the hemorrhaging has yet to be stopped. Tying a tourniquet around radio’s neck may not be the most effective activity.

Breaking News: It Gets Worse

For decades, radio has been operating under two, main, crippling, psychological phenomena, the labels of which are: “Delusion” and “Denial”. Radio has been operating under the delusion that it is generating superior products and services that have been and continue to be as effective and influential as possible. The denial portion is about radio’s unwillingness to accept how it is failing to re-direct any resources to the development of the necessary elements required to get the medium of the axle-deep rut in which it labours.

And now for Radio’s Most Important Unanswered Question

Why, and for what purpose, does radio absolutely refuse to make every effort possible to upgrade its on-air presentations and local, commercial production elements? This is no rhetorical question. It is a question, the answer to which, that, to make any sense at all, must include the aforementioned delusions and denials under which radio continues to operate.

Like with the matter of “consolidation”, are there any rational, non self-serving arguments for continuing the status quo as they apply to programming and commercial production – any at all?

Radio programming and the generation of local commercial messaging is in total disarray, and is an abject shambles. These elements are also slowly expiring on a gurney in a forgotten hallway – sweaty, smelly sheets and all.

To my knowledge, no evidence for the acceptance of the need for, and the willingness to make serious inquiries into how, specifically, to make the, by now, required improvements has been provided.

Only the delusional and those in denial could maintain such positions and ongoing behaviors. Refusing to make massive improvements in one’s own industry – an industry that has no other alternatives for developing its influence, efficiencies and acceptance by audiences and advertisers only reinforces the proposition.

An outsider could consider the situations in which radio finds itself and, without danger of any forthcoming, rational response, wonder: “Are these guys nuts?”

This situation is one that requires no discussion or debate – only a new awareness. A sincere confession might be pleasant, as well. We can agree on the following: Consolidation sucks. Dinosaurs did not wear saddles. Radio needs to reinvent itself before, as a viable and desirable medium, we go extinct ourselves.

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

Postby pave » Tue Aug 15, 2017 5:44 am

Radio And U.S. Healthcare: Brothers In Qualms

People around the world, including here in Canada and 50 other countries, are aghast at how the American political and corporate systems are abusing, exploiting, and refusing to minister to the health care needs of its citizens. After a seven-year window to construct a reasonable medical program, the Republican majorities were unable to deliver the goods. Howls of disbelief, frustration and rage could be heard - even from across this border.

While an uniformed and/or non-participatory electorate can be held partially liable, the failure is, primarily, that of the legislators. Their priorities are entirely disconnected from any workable realities. Their wildly distorted ideological positions, along with their festering, corporate allegiances only guarantee a dysfunctional and horribly expensive system. The last people to be considered, if at all, are those who would be required to pay, and for whom the system is (allegedly) supposed to be serving.

Radio in general and corporate radio in particular finds itself in a similar position. Can anyone in authority argue with the facts that their behaviors and positions are those that demonstrate a loyalty only to the corporate masters? The disregard for those who are (again allegedly) supposed to be served has been and continues to be obvious. These would include the advertisers, audiences and staffs.

That abject embarrassment or any admissions of guilt have never been demonstrated constitutes evidence of horribly twisted senses of entitlement and a disgusting rejection of any responsibility to a public trust. Licenses are, after all, granted as a privilege – or so the story goes. Further, those who line-up and are marching in lockstep with the radio dogma are demonstrating a fantastic degree of credulity and gullibility.

If there is to be any improvement in the state of radio, it can only come about with the enlightenment of the ownership and leadership. These would be the same people who serve the ownership’s dictums and offer no suggestions or challenges while doing so. Everybody down the hierarchy does, indeed, need to protect their “phoney baloney” jobs.

Radio’s ideologies or “dogma” have been the force that has been wrecking the industry for decades. Vested interests are the main factors that have been stultifying the medium. Audiences and advertisers have been summarily dismissed and ignored. They have also been abused as if there were no chances of retaliation.

Similarly, the generation of a useful and reasonable healthcare system is being crippled by vested interests. The extraordinary lack of knowledge demonstrated by the principals whose primary responsibility is to design such a system is an absurdity. Wholly accepted ideologies take precedence. This is a natural and expected result of failing to challenge such long-standing, deeply held and unexplainable positions. Particularly disturbing is the situation where the strategies are continuously found to be not only ineffective, but dynamically counter-productive – and at extra charge. On this matter, Congress has been demonstrating the old adage about “finding out what doesn’t work – and doing it harder”.

Similarly, radio refuses to make the changes to the only elements over which it has control – on-air presentations and the generation of commercials. Plus, radio has been making no sincere inquiries. The losers of the results of radio’s profoundly ridiculous practices – or rather, the lack of other, more worthwhile approaches - are the audiences and the advertisers. Payback may be imminent. There are more effective options available to radio, just as there are better models for a healthcare system. They are seemingly hiding in full view.

My brother-in-law was struck down by a heart attack a week ago. He was transported to hospital by ambulance; he was admitted to emergency where staff moved into action to determine his condition, what technologies were immediately required and what further treatment was necessary.

After he was stabilized, he was scheduled for a heart surgery at a specialized hospital. He was flown to the facility and the following day, the operation was performed. Estimated costs: $150.000.00. His bill: Zero. Tens of millions of taxpayers did not use any medical services last week. Essentially, that’s it.

The fix for radio is also as readily available. But, I have to wonder if anyone is really paying attention to the alternatives. Dogma demands: There are no alternatives. And if there were, they wouldn’t be any good anyway.

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

Postby pave » Sun Aug 27, 2017 4:53 pm

Does Radio Blow Or Suck?

As an attention grabbing, titillating title, that’s pretty good, huh? I suspect most readers would make of it a crude and naughty sexual reference. Should they take it literally? Perhaps it is a figurative tease. Another option is the title might be an introduction to a completely unique and nifty radio analogy.

To begin: Radio, traditionally, and driven by already-accepted precepts that take the position of “radio law”, does, in fact and practice, blow. That’s right: Radio blows! Not only does radio blow, it does so consistently and almost exclusively - without any discussion of if “blowing” is a particularly good thing.

Does this mean that radio does not suck? If not, then, is that a good thing? No, this is not a good thing. Radio, I submit, needs to suck – more now than at any time in our history. I am reminded that, if I were pulling an on-air shift right now and delivering this message, I could realistically expect my P.D. to come bursting through the CR door, enraged and flustered – and, if I was lucky – have an episode of hyperventilation that would render them unable to speak. (I used to have a supply of brown, paper bags available under the board for just such contingencies.)

Even as some might be considering these comments as a joyful and giddy participation in juvenile vulgarities, I promise an explanation is forthcoming. Just not right away. There are many in the industry who would be glad to pull on a mask and a hood and prowl the streets with placards that read “Radio Sucks!’ and “Radio Blows!” – and to do so with a combination of glee and righteous indignation. None of that, while sincere, would be practically useful.

Most people, meanwhile, are not sailors and, as such, would not be expected to have a technical discussion on the properties and functions of sails. If asked, “How does a sail work?” Most people would rely on their observations and intuitions and reply with some form of the following: “A sail is positioned in such a way that the wind pushes against it, and it is this force that moves the boat through the water.” This would represent the “blow” portion of the discussion. They would also be correct. But only partially.

Radio, meanwhile, is a medium that relies, essentially, on the “blow” element. Radio continues to present as a, shall I say, a medium that is Direct and Demanding. Radio attempts to contact listeners based on the direct and disastrous “one-to-one” premise, and then it makes demands on those listeners. We continuously tell them what to do. This goes on as if we have the authority to make such demands. The real-life reality is that we have less authority than a school’s hallway monitors. Yes, radio blows.

Back to the properties of a sail: When the wind is blowing against a sail an area of high pressure is developed along that part of the sail. However, and this is a spectacular distinction, on the other side of the sail, an area of low pressure is generated. Ma Nature makes every attempt to compensate for that low pressure, and to do so, Ma sucks on the sail. This generates a pulling force, and the boat moves even more rapidly. This amazing phenomenon is called “lift” and the term does tend to make an explanation a little more confusing.

The same principle applies to how an airplane’s wing generates “lift”. In practical terms that are a little easier to understand, the top of the wing is definitely being sucked up from above more than lifted from below.

Radio, however, refuses to suck or lift, or take advantage of natural human linguistic responses. To put it another way: Listeners respond incredibly well when “low pressure” environments are provided. Ownership and management are, I submit, completely unaware of these principles of broadcast communications – never mind the available techniques and methodologies that produce the benefits.

Indeed, a combination of a little less “blow” and a lot more “suck” is the solution. Besides, staffs are reluctant to comply when captains order the crews behind the masts, face them into the sails and then, make them blow. (Readers are invited to supply their own punchlines.)


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

Postby pave » Sun Sep 17, 2017 11:50 am

Radio’s Lost Concept: Theatre Of The Mind
Anyone in radio who is promoting this medium as one that utilizes the principles of “Theatre of the Mind” needs to be taken down the hall and have their mouths washed out with soap. In days of yore, some moms would use their kids’ teeth like a cheese grater, and rasp a bar of Ivory back and forth so that enough soap would get dug in between the teeth for the taste to last a few minutes. Nasty and humiliating, that was. It didn’t do much to curtail the behaviours, either.

Radio ownership and management have made it one of their guiding principles to literally eradicate any examples of, or proposals for, the application of any theatre-of-the-mind approaches. Further, most of the people who could have participated in generating these productions have already been tossed.

Their rationale: Direct-response, content-laden ads are easier and cheaper to produce, and to be fair; they do work to some degree. So pervasive has this approach been that even the advertisers recoil at any approaches that are not consistent with those types of ads. Are radio reps going to get in the way of those expectations? They will, out of the necessity to book the business, do the bobble-headed, dipping dog, and secure the time buy. Besides, “With these deals, the copy writes itself.”

There is also a more sinister and unacknowledged factor that needs an introduction: Owners, managers and advertisers are completely unconvinced that ads that qualify as “theatre of the mind” are all that much more influential than the standard, easy-peazy, widget-ads.

From time-to-time, some creative group or other will produce a series of ads that tout how powerful radio can be as a “theatre-of-the-mind” medium. Marvelous visuals and scenarios are created – using only audio elements – that trigger audience imaginations and take them over the top. Stations gleefully run the spots even as management is determined to never put the strategies into their own, local mixes. Everybody on staff celebrates the potentials of radio, and then they go right back to producing crap.

The three completely acknowledge and accepted rules of radio advertising are as follows.
1. Gain and maintain the attention of the audience.
2. Generate a desired emotional response from the audience.
3. Introduce the product, service or brand of the advertisers.

It really has been a shame that station management immediately treats elements 1 and 2 like they were cigarette butts, by stomping on, and twisting them into the pavement. The indoctrinated Holy Grail of radio is about direct response, content-loaded scripts that are also laden with demands and commands.

It is hardly a stretch to speculate, or predict, that unless an imaginative set of spots comes rolling in from an outside agency, radio will continue to avoid spending the time and expense of producing what has, for the most part, remains to be perceived as: unproven materials.

As a source of more influential and imaginative advertising messages, radio is just another abandoned and rusting hulk, pushed off to the side of the road. Fortunately, radio still has a fleet of older, underpowered vans that can keep the supply lines open. But, just barely.

So staunch and locked in its ways is radio, it refuses to even address how the direct response ads themselves can be improved – to the point of being more influential and less annoying.

The application of anything even resembling Theatre of the Mind has become no more than a campfire story that the old timers can spin during a night in the woods. Descriptions of huge Maraschino cherries being bombed into massive lakes of chocolate (with sfx), while entertaining, still leave management and advertisers wondering how any of that will assist them in booking time-buys, or selling tires and furniture.

The psychological research has been done and continues. We are surrounded by “theatre of the mind” strategies on TV and online. Sales results are available. But, of course, none of this is accepted as being valid. Nor does it serve as motivation to undertake local, internal programs of applying the principles.

People, including radio’s management, avoid uncomfortable situations. Applying the principles of Theatre of the Mind definitely qualifies as an uncomfortable exercise. Expert efforts, I understand, are being made to re-introduce the concepts. Good luck to them.


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

Postby pave » Thu Oct 05, 2017 6:28 am

Radio’s Rope-a-Dope
Dateline: Kinshasha, Zaire.
Event: The Rumble in the Jungle.
Combatants: World Heavyweight Champion George Foreman and Muhammed Ali

At the time and well before George Foreman became an exceptionally affable pitch-man for cookware, he was the most feared man in the fight game. And, rightfully so. He destroyed his opponents. When the announcement was made of the Foreman/Ali match, pundits were offering sympathy messages for the former Cassius Clay.

Forman was known for the brutal effects of his punches. Like “Rocky Balboa”, Foreman could beat the carcass of a cow into submission. How was Ali to defend himself against such onslaughts – never mind achieve a near impossible victory?

Enter: The Strategy.

Contrary to the professional opinions of some aficionados of boxing, Foreman was, ultimately human. He could throw those devastating punches, but only for so long. Ali’s strategy was: To protect himself – for a long period of time. He would cover up and lean into the ropes and absorb all the punishment he could manage without being beaten down and out. Would this strategy allow Ali to avoid becoming another “canvas back”?

As Foreman eventually tired and became exhausted, Ali was in a much better position to counter-attack… and prevail. Ali had the knowledge, skills and self-discipline to stick with the strategy. In this case, sporting history was made, and as this event has since been raised to an iconoclastic status, the details of Ali’s capacities to prepare and execute get left out of the story.

Radio, I submit, is demonstrating a form of “rope-a-dope” as a strategy. From all quarters, radio is being pummeled by competing media and by members of its own kind. Radio, despite bleatings to the contrary, is operating in a very defensive mode. Radio is doing more to protect itself than it is to better itself. All the, by now, droll justifications continue to be trotted out as if distinctions between wheat and chaff were being correctly identified.

As a medium that is still enjoying an impressive reach, radio’s sales and marketing professionals continue to advance the benefits to advertisers for accessing the unique, influential properties that radio still enjoys. Not only is this information not revelations, they have been the status quo for many decades. Indeed, “Radio Work!”

While radio sales professionals continue to develop methodologies for presenting the medium – as well as accumulating data that reinforces the impact of radio, these activities are based on the assumption (or understanding) that radio’s leadership have no intentions to investigate the capacities of radio to become a much more powerful medium. So far as I know, the considerations of the potentials of the radio medium have either been discounted as useless, and possibly expensive enterprise to be undertaken, or disregarded altogether.

So, radio moves around the peripherals of its squared circle and bounces off its ring ropes – protecting itself from incoming assaults. Unlike Ali, however, radio has no strategy to go on the offensive. It can’t do so, because, unlike Ali, radio has not acquired the knowledge, the skills or the self-discipline to mount any offensive whatsoever. It should be recognized, meanwhile, that radio does have the stamina to stay standing without being driven to the floor – and counted “out”. Further, radio's opposition will never tire. As such, radio finds itself where it is unlikely to develop to the degree necessary for it to face both external and internal opposition - allowing it to go "toe-to-toe" with any chances of success.

That radio refuses to address its on-air presentations and the quality of its local ad production constitutes a glaring and noisy indictment of the ownership and management group. There are no valid or compelling excuses being provided from this group – other than the obligatory: “Gotta cut some more budgets here. Times are tough!”-routine.

Over the years I have been advancing these premises, I have not had one cogent challenge on the issues. Not one. It would be reasonable, I presume, to expect at least a few radio apologists to get on their hind legs in enthusiastic and righteous protest. Anyone who is willing to make such protestations, however, is also obliged, in my view, to articulate specific alternatives. So far, not a peep.

When the very first groups we are supposedly serving – advertisers and audiences – are the last ones to be addressed, the indications become that the “rope-a-dope” strategy, while it does extend radio’s participation in the game, it is still all that is keeping the industry from becoming the “former” champion.


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

Postby pave » Thu Oct 19, 2017 5:00 am

Radio’s Ad Buffet
One of the more dependable and respected individuals who is continuously working on the creation of effective radio ads is the wily veteran, Roy H. (“The Wiz”) Williams. In a recent article, Roy, once again, points out the efficacy of including sensory modalities in the copy – the results of which stimulates the attention and the emotional responses from the audience.

These two elements (attention and emotionalism) have been touted as the two most important factors required for the writing and production of the most effective ads. Very few can mount any cogent argument at all that is contrary to these premises.

What radio does do, and on a consistent basis, is ignore both of these factors.

Roy, at the drop of a hat, has often been supplying pertinent information, explanations and examples of what an effective ad requires in order to, as has been said way too often, “break through the clutter” while motivating and influencing audiences to participate with the advertisers’ messages.

Most of the other relevant material that has been offered in this particular space has, likewise, been ignored. Ignored by an entire industry. I may be somewhat confused, but that position, and it is a concocted position, strikes me as a fully integrated and accepted delusion.

Setting aside the maudlin and inarticulate ramblings of the majority of on-air presenters that permeates commercial radio for a moment, the more important and dangerous element is the literal rejection of the responsibility radio has to its advertisers. To my knowledge, very few steps are being taken by ownership and management to either: acknowledge the situation or to take action to make the required improvements. Where I come from, that’s called: “A dereliction of duty.” There are few other ways to put it.

When “The Wiz” prepares a piece for radio professionals, some would exclaim, “Way to be, Roy!” And then, the materials are heaved out a window and end up fluttering in the breeze as they twist to the wet pavement below where they are run over in traffic- unused and forgotten.

“But wait! There’s more!”

While Roy or other experts are preparing sumptuous and attractive buffets of communications feasts – loaded with multiple choices of tasty strategies and appealing methods, the displays have been located on the other side of the river!

Other commentators have put the obvious to print. They are operating on the wrong side of the river. Their canoe is fragile and leaky and they don’t have the paddlers that would be necessary to make the trek to the shore where all the really good goodies are available.

I am reminded of the individual who was responsible for writing spots for a cluster of five stations, was brand manager for one of them and also pulled a daily shift. In spite of an assumed excitement for, and a desire to remain in the business, he is still chained to a post while expected to run laps for the owners.

Is he the one to take up the sword, gird his loins and charge off into The Land of Sweet, Sweet Improvement? Not unless he is willing to martyr-up in the process.

During my tenure in this space, I have been arguing for massive improvements in the communicative skills of both on-air and creative participants. I have also been providing tested, proven strategies and methodologies for accomplishing just such improvements. I have been offering to train staffs in the basics and the nuances of professional broadcast communications.

Then, it hit me. Who am I going to train? Radio is not only running on skeleton staffs, it is running on staffs of skeletons. They are overused, exhausted, unmotivated and undernourished. More people with better skills are necessary immediately. However, what are the chances?

Roy’s wonderful contributions become tasty treats that are, practically, unavailable to the working stiffs on the wrong side of the river. But, from a distance, they all seem, and really are, fantastic. So, what? Again, what are the chances?


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 still not been addressed or applied. info@voicetalentguy.com
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Mon Oct 23, 2017 4:58 am

Can I Get A Witness?
At no time in my radio career did I ever wish to be wearing a tattered robe held together by a flayed piece of rope. I never wanted to be wandering rain-soaked or freezing sidewalks in my open-toed sandals while carrying a sandwich board that reads: “Attention Radio – Snappeth Out Of It!” Nor did I want mine to be a lone voice in the wilderness.

Figuratively, that, verily, has all come to pass. Imagine my surprise. Imagine my disappointment. Imagine my righteous and haughty indignation. If it weren’t for self-applied and a suspiciously twisted form of arrogance along with other (only fantasized) expectations, I would be completely at a loss for a good reason to continue my endeavors to assist radio out of its own Dark Ages.

Radio’s owners and management, I submit, are on a rampage, singularly and collectively, of dedicating themselves to, as some would say, “polishing their own turds”. Insiders can hear the squeaking of rags buffing the really rusty parts, and they get a continuous aroma from anyone who is applying way too much elbow grease.

Here is the irony: One sentence will cover the position as it is being rendered and as it is being severely protected: “Radio is the way it is, the way it was, and the way it will always be.”

While that is nonsensical gibberish, it is also, I believe, the overwhelming and predominant position held by radio’s owners and management. Not only are they unwilling to take steps that will jolt the medium into contemporary times, they are also unwilling to even consider the possibilities that such potentials and impactful interventions even exist!

A pilot friend of mine tells a story about him flying an older Beech-18, a notoriously underpowered twin-engine aircraft that was popular in the ‘50’s, ‘60’s and later, When describing the performance of the aircraft with one engine disabled, he explained. “That just moves the scene of the crash further downrange!”

Radio, and too much of it, is running on only one engine and, in some cases, that power plant is overheating, smoking and/or sputtering. Over the years, Twin Beech operators figured out when it was time to get more powerful engines bolted to their airframes. Radio writes off any process of “powering-up” as too expensive and completely unnecessary. End of discussion.

All the evidence – it’s available on the radio, by the way – supports the following proposition: Owners and management have no idea they have control of a pervasive medium that has the potential to be so much more enjoyable by audiences and, most importantly, so much more influential for advertisers. Remember them – the ones who pay the bills?

It does not even occur to radio folks they might be walking around with shimmering bottles hidden in their pockets. Those bottles are not full of fireflies – they are full of lightning. Nor does it occur that communicating on the radio is, indeed, a very complex and sophisticated process. Very few people in radio pay that idea any lip service at all. And it shows.

Major, sophisticated ad agencies are continuously inserting multi-million dollar invoices to clients for what they provide. And what they are doing is this: They are using the most complex, intricate, imaginative and mind-boggling principles-of-influence along with the finest technologies available in order to get listeners/viewers to buy products and services they may not need at prices they may not be able to afford for reasons about which they may not even be aware. Plus, these techniques are also applied to get people to actually believe things they may not have otherwise even considered.

Radio, however, comes at audiences with loud noises, a bludgeon and demands for specific behaviours. That is the rudest and the crudest of all possible approaches. Radio’s response to the indictment: “Don’ know what you’re talkin’ about.”

In the meantime, I pause in a doorway, out of the wind, to cup my shivering, shaking hands around a match and light a smoke. I do, though, keep a wary, bloodshot eye out for someone who might approach and say, “I understand what you’re doin’, man. I’m with you! Good luck! Want some soup?” (Maybe tomorrow will be drier – and a little warmer.)


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 still not been addressed or applied. info@voicetalentguy.com
pave
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Wed Nov 01, 2017 8:33 am

Don’ Wan’ No Stinking Responsibilities
The most recent, I believe cynical FCC ruling in the States paved the way for broadcasters to literally abandon their local communities and move their facilities to a central location – so far out of town that even a robust carrier pigeon might not make it back to headquarters with the message: “Buffalo Groin, North Dakota is burning! Please advise. And, oh yeah – send help!”

Any local resident who could see an approaching pillar of flames a mile out and is the proud owner of a rare, battery-powered radio – and some batteries – could dial up their “local” station and hear no more than the following: “And the hits – just keep on comin’!” The technical term for such a listener’s situation is: “Totally Screwed”.

Meanwhile, as a result of “the most bestest ruling ever”, corporate radio is gleefully jumping up and down like they were competing in an already rigged Double Dutch rope-skipping tournament. “Wheee!”

Besides, consolidating their operations even more while throwing talent and support staff into the street, introduces an even more important element to this charade: Not only will the owners no longer have to pretend they are serving their local communities, they will never have to admit they never did, don’t now and will never have the knowledge, experience or desire to do so. Lucky break, or what?

Now, those of us in the northern, northern parts of North America - that is, those of us who have played some lake and river hockey did learn, sometimes from the harsh experience of other skaters, to check the thickness of the ice before we ventured out to emulate Gordie Howe, “Rocket” Richard or Wayne Gretzky.

Those members of radio’s ownership that are leaping about, have not checked the ice on which they are rejoicing. They will be severely shocked, when untested, corporate rinks crack open, and everybody tumbles in – panicked and flailing. After failed attempts to scramble back out, the company is borne under the ice by the current, with the bodies of their staffs not likely to be found until spring. Indeed, a nasty metaphor about possibilities.

This ruling, it may be suggested, will allow certain organizations to maintain their business models – as anemic as they are – for some foreseeable future.

This new ruling, in a way, makes it easier for commercial radio to continue maliciously treating its audiences like rubes, and its local advertisers like boobs. Right here, however, is where it is important for me to allow: While this is the identifiable case, many owners and managers do not treat the audiences and advertisers in these manners with any sinister, cruel or conscious intentions. They are, for the most part, completely unaware of how, specifically, and in so many ways, they are derelict in their duties while i]unknowingly[/I] abusing their audiences and advertisers. A plausible response from ownership to the charge could very well be a sincere: ”Whaddya mean?” Contrary to legal precedence, “ignorance” often seems to be a completely satisfactory and, often, accepted defence.

Given the amount of syndication, voice-tracking and, when it is offered, the embarrassing weaknesses of so many of the local talents that overwhelm the airwaves, this latest ruling does nothing to assure the future viability of radio – as impressive a reach as it still enjoys. Radio, I have been suggesting, enjoys the success it does, not because of any programming or commercial production wizardry, but because of the innate, electronic power of the medium. Another lucky break, or what?

The most important part of this presentation still remains in the proposition: Radio’s owners and management have no ideas, never mind pertinent knowledge, of how, specifically, to move beyond the despicable state in which most of the radio business finds itself.

The ongoing insulting and abuses of, so-far, tolerant audiences, and the exploitation of advertisers – both of which need better from this medium - stand as severe indictments against an industry that is unable to improve its bottom lines.

If radio is operating on the assumption that it will continue to be supported by both audiences and advertisers over the longer term, they are likely to be horribly disappointed. Wishful thinking and a buck, ninety-five might get the guy with the fading, streaked sandwich board a bowl of soup.


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

Postby pave » Wed Nov 22, 2017 1:07 pm

Cowering In The Box
I wonder how so difficult it must be for radio’s ownership and management to articulate what “out of the box” really means. The contemplation of such a nebulous and ill-defined concept is tough for bogged down and reticent executives, I suggest, for one primary reason: They are unable to describe or define the “box” in which they find themselves right now! Useful comparisons would, therefore, be unavailable.

Yes, there are credible, intelligent and knowledgeable individuals within the industry who are able to make some of the necessary distinctions about what is ailing radio – the “box” into which radio crawled long ago, and where it remains. The trick, however, is in finding someone else within the ownership and management corps who is willing to engage in such conversations. If those individuals could be rooted out, they could form a club, and even have secret meetings.

I have no evidence that ownership and management are eager to seek out, identify or address themselves to those strategies and methodologies that would drastically improve the results generated by their own organizations. To do so would entail becoming aware of, and rejecting significant portions of the current models-of-radio they have been applying – with limited success – for decades. Seems nobody is lining up for that experience!

Commercial radio has become, generally, a stagnant enterprise. While the presentations of some sales departments are becoming more sophisticated, the services being supplied by the radio stations still amount to the same ol’. This situation applies to both large corporate outfits and to smaller radio companies.

Radio, meanwhile, has a great friend in Bob McCurdy, Vice President of Sales for The Beasley Media Group. Bob has been providing an impressive amount of research as well as functional methodologies for radio sales departments to take to their current and prospective clients.

As important to me, though, is Bob’s position as also a student of the other, ignored parts of the business – the “communication” parts. When asked, Bob can explain and demonstrate a number of the - so far, unaccepted – communicative basics along with many powerful nuances that are critical to being appealing to audiences and influential for advertisers.

With rare, but statistically irrelevant, exceptions, the information provided by the likes of Bob, Roy Williams and a few others, including my own small contributions have, essentially, been ignored or outrightly rejected.

As I have continuously maintained: Radio has done as well as it has, not because of any particular sales, programming or spot-construction wizardry, but because of the innate power of an electronic medium that still enjoys a substantial, traditional reach.

“Direct response” ads make up the greatest majority of all the spots that get aired. To clarify: Direct response ads depend on audiences consciously processing the presented material in real time - with the hope of almost instant responses. This approach has, indeed, kept the medium in a position of a stuttering stasis. The edge of entropy does, meanwhile, approach, and some would suggest: in a rapidly increasing and threatening manner.

What is missing in radio’s quiver is: all the other arrows. That is to say, all the immediately available communicative techniques that take advantage of the listeners’ innate, unconscious abilities to access and respond to broadcast materials are being ignored by broadcast executives. Management cowers in the original box.

Like adamant proponents of a flat earth from many centuries ago, radio management recoils in disgust at any mention, suggestion or demonstrated evidence that would challenge radio’s utterly accepted set of dogmatic positions. To even prop the lid and peer out for a moment risks the discovery that: “There be dragons out there. Close the box!”

Further, excuses and/or justifications have been made that allow for the inability of radio’s management corps to consider their business from anything other than an in-person, subjective position. It has been suggested these executives are incapable of the practice of “disassociating”. It’s just an exercise of pretending to consider a situation from the perspective of being outside of yourself and – looking back in. Another form of disassociation is taking the “fly-on-wall” perspective – the position of a disengaged, objective witness.

Indeed, it would be difficult to crawl out of a box or want to escape, particularly when people fail to realise they are in one. None of the presented excuses are acceptable or useful – even when they are true. And none of the fixes of this situation consists of actual “Rocketology”.


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

Postby pave » Fri Dec 08, 2017 3:55 am

Here Is What It’s Going To Take
In an earlier piece, I made the analogy of radio, in general, to flying a vintage, twin Beech-18 on only one engine. The fate of the aircraft and pilot was of moving the scene of the crash just slightly downrange. America's Cumulus might be providing an example of that – in real time. With share prices having moved from around 64 dollars to a dime in under four years represents more than a cough or a sputter. An engine has blown out and the wing is on fire.

Meanwhile, to continue the radio/aircraft analogy: As the situations develop, radio drives the sales departments to kill something they can eat armed only with a broken hockey stick, and the Beech co-pilot is handing out cokes and bags of peanuts. Apparently, both the radio sales guy and the co-pilot haven’t been paying attention, or they are both delusional.

What many/most radio station owners are missing is that: Instead of staring through the tunnel, looking for any evidence of a bright light, they are actually peering into the business end of 12-gauge shotguns.

Over time, there has been a torrent of proclamations from radio’s ownership and management (and cheer leaders) to “increase sales by telling the story!” That would be the story about the reach radio still enjoys and the ROI that radio can often deliver – under certain circumstances. That strategy hasn’t been working out all that well, by the way. It (the strategy) is unlikely to turn too many advertisers around, either. Granted, there are some sophisticated purveyors of the radio sales arts who can generate decent numbers for their outfits.

Yes, radio needs to continue telling the story. But, radio also needs to add to that. Radio needs/must/is required to do something else: Radio must create a new reality for itself, its audiences and its advertisers

For decades, radio has only taken steps to diminish itself and its influence on audiences, and its capacities to be more effective on behalf of its advertisers. That these approaches have been framed as “prudent business practices” or some other shabby and cheap justification, only demonstrates how truly shoddy and superficial these pronouncements have been. This also suggests that the people making these calls are tragically uninformed.

Cumulus, as the most recent example of a teetering organization on the verge of collapse, has had the same opportunities to address, not only its business model, but also, its models of communication. Like the rest of the industry, with only a few exceptions, they have done nothing at all that would result in: Making their stations more appealing to audiences, and making their local advertising services more effective for its local clients.

All of that is an element for the programmers to address. My suspicion is that some programmers already know there are too many monkey wrenches busting up sprockets and, essentially, jamming up the machinery. Most, however, would have great difficulty in articulating any alternative behaviours.

Replacing voice-tracked materials or equally banal syndicated programs with “live & local” doesn’t even come close to providing audiences with much, much more compelling programming – the kind of programming that will be required to generate significantly greater audience interest and loyalty.

Employing untrained and/or incompetent talent, completely lacking in the knowledge of even fundamental broadcast techniques, never mind the multiple nuances of delivering to an electronic audience, amounts to no more than throwing degraded slop to the hogs. What comes out the other end is a cheap, tasteless bacon that is unfit for human consumption.

“Copywriting”, meanwhile and in some other jurisdictions, is still accepted as an actual “profession”. In radio, it is a necessary piece of slog-work that is, as often as not, thrown to the sales representatives to scribble out on a table napkin – while the advertiser dictates.

Those are the parts of “the story” that can’t be told. To do so would expose the lacklustre motivations, understandings, abilities, as well as the hypocrisies of the business. Even if there was a mass confessional staged for the industry, the crashing and crushing reality is this: Radio is not willing, nor is it prepared to accept or address an absolute need for generating a new, necessary reality. This is because of one reason: They don’t know how.


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