What's It Going To Take...?

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

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

Postby pave » Mon Aug 20, 2018 9:01 am

How Facts Get In Radio’s Way
As a well educated and practiced individual in certain areas, as they apply to the communicative aspects of radio, I am also well trained in providing counselling services to individuals who would benefit from changes in their psychological behaviours. The synergy, meanwhile, between these two seemingly unrelated elements is still quite extraordinary.

Unless trained beyond our own propensities, we tend to behave and speak in a manner that is consistent with our thinking. Our ways of speaking are, almost exclusively, intuitive and habitual. In a way, radio reinforces that idea with the “be yourself” and the “one-to-one” edicts. Neither of these missives is, practically, achievable. Both, again practically, are destructive.

Even though both of these premises can be demonstrated to be faulty, easily and often, it can be noted they still take on the mantle of “facts”. But, like the almost universally accepted rumour that “rules were made to be broken”, some facts are still vigorously denied. Such responses occur when any “facts” run head-on and clang into a steel wall of already-existing beliefs and/or values.

Very little solid, contradictory evidence stands much of a chance of gaining any traction when other unspecified materials are already welded on. This is when minds stop processing, and heels get dug in. The recently coined “alternative facts” phenomenon serves as a prime example of nonsense that has been served up on a warm plate to reinforce those whose positions were already locked in. Formerly accepted “facts” become questionable, and a new reality can be produced – way too easily.

Here’s a fact about radio: Radio’s more recent spate of ownership has done a magnificent job of wrecking what could yet be a marvelous platform to reach and influence greater numbers of audiences. Twenty-five years ago, did the ownership group gather at a lodge somewhere in the Appalachians and determine their best strategy for success would be to gut the industry of its talent and make radio a less appealing and less effective medium? It doesn’t matter, as that is exactly what they did anyway.

I wonder if anyone else has accepted the following as fact: Other media stopped selling against radio a long time ago. The reason: They don’t have to. Radio continues to do everything possible to make it an impotent, unnecessary part of an advertiser’s media buy. A couple of discounting sentences from the competition is often enough to take radio out of any considered mix. Buying around radio is easier now than at any other time in our sordid history. (I guess I am obliged to acknowledge radio’s reach and occasional, sometimes startling examples of wonderful ROI.) “The Story”, meanwhile, is stilling falling on mostly deaf ears.

Radio’s “Really Big and Important Story” is cobbled from such a cherry-picked set of examples as to stretch an advertiser’s credulity to painful limits. At best, radio has become a sometimes, maybe and depends advertising option. That, I submit, has become a pervasive perception of advertisers and, for many, an accepted “fact”.

Furthermore, bells are ringing; bugles blaring and banners are flapping during station-sponsored celebrations of “The Story”. Few of radio’s leadership are willing to admit that the appeal of programming is nebulous and innocuous, and the quality of locally produced advertising is only consistent in quality with bulletin boards at the neighbourhood Skweeky Kleen Laundromat. These are examples of deniable and rejected facts.

Here, then, is another unacknowledged fact: Sophisticated advertisers and the equally sophisticated agencies that produce their advertising have known for over half a century that electronic advertising works far better when the emotional aspects of an audience are, not only factored in, but take a primary position.

Radio has no truck with such nonsense. Instead, radio insists on producing ads that feature only content – presented by annoying announcers. Radio still lives, but mostly dies; by clutching the “Price/Product, Yell & Sell” model. Local advertisers insist on this approach and radio, not having anything else in the can, supports them.

And so, radio’s pervasive denial of the facts continues. I used to think that somebody in the leadership would “snap out of it”, so to speak, and start engaging in research to counteract such debilitating behaviors. I was mistaken. I am also sorely disappointed.

Ronald T. Robinson
info@voicetalentguy.com
pave
Advanced Member
 
Posts: 1444
Joined: Tue May 23, 2006 12:22 pm

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

Postby pave » Fri Aug 31, 2018 4:18 am

Radio’s Abandoned Responsibilities – Part 1

“To sell more spots for bigger bucks.” Contrary to popular assertions, this ought not be a stated radio responsibility. Rather, it is an internally motivated, desired outcome. Similarly, “cutting expenses” is not a responsibility. One might argue, given the vigour with which cost cutting is pursued and tackled, it would seem like more than a responsibility; it could be the prime directive.

Commercial radio, given some rare exceptions, has practically abdicated its two major responsibilities. The result of the jettisoning is impacting on the following groups: shareholders, employees, audiences and advertisers. Of those, audiences and advertisers make up the sectors being stridently ignored – and harshly so.

Although not an accepted, prevailing mandate, radio still has the responsibility to attract and maintain larger, more attentive audiences than it has over the last decades. In fact, “reach” has become the only relevant factor still being foisted by radio’s apologists. Any expectations that this status quo will remain over time could easily be construed as a form of wishful thinking. It’s not as if steps are being taken to maintain or improve such a nebulous, shaky, big & shiny phenomenon.

Even those owners, managers and senior performers who are willing to grudgingly admit that audience development – as a responsibility - has been cleared from the table, it is mostly the denials that such a situation is pervasive that are most often trumpeted for anybody sporting any passing interest. Mostly, the denials are no more than delusions slathered over each other. Accusations that audiences are being systematically discounted make up criticisms too harsh to even consider, never mind defend.

Some owners will attest that the idea of “live & local” might serve as a panacea for the malady. But, they also are well aware of how significant expenses would be an assured part of any application of the strategy. Plus, owners and managers may also be suffering from a not unrealistic premonition or intuition that “live & local” really won’t be the difference that makes any huge difference. They would be correct. More “live” and undisciplined lip flapping presented on the air more often assures a catastrophe.

While there are a number of exceptional talents available here and there, most of the presenters are wholly unqualified and unprepared to be any more appealing than the already available, canned, voice-tracked efforts or from those who are already “live & local”. These presenters have yet to be educated, trained and provided with opportunities to practice and gain the necessary skills that are required to be of greater appeal to an audience and valueto the station.

This abdication of the further development of each station’s audience by ownership and management is based on some fundamental elements.

1. Ownership demonstrates they are willing to continue with the status quo because, although not to any impressive degree, they have all been getting away with it. Nobody is storming the gates with pitchforks and torches. So far, so good.
2. Most ownership does not go out its way to extol the virtues of “live & local”. It can be speculated they have little confidence the strategy is worth the significant, extra expense.
3. Most significantly, those who even have suspicions that “live & local” might be of some value, they have no idea how to implement it. Contrary to other widely held positions, “talkin’ good on the radio” needs to approached as a very sophisticated, communicative process. (Extra expenses are assured. So, the potential of anyone in authority taking action is slim. Therefore, the prognosis is grim.)

Would it be so cruel, I wonder, to lay the ownership of the results of the systemic and knowing abdication of this, the first responsibility, at the feet of owners and management, specifically? The answer is a hearty, full-throated “No”! Consultants, coaches and corporate programmers have also colluded in the decimation of the numbers and skills of the very talent base that is essential for radio to prosper.

Meanwhile, for no convincing, evidence-based justifications, corporate radio continues to argue/plead for greater ownership of more stations in their markets. This is unlikely to advance any cause for greater profits. Instead, the crippling of the medium will continue – from within.
(Part 2 follows.)

Ronald T. Robinson
info@voicetalentguy.com
pave
Advanced Member
 
Posts: 1444
Joined: Tue May 23, 2006 12:22 pm

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

Postby pave » Sun Sep 09, 2018 7:04 pm

Radio’s Abandoned Responsibilities – Part 2

Although listed here at #2, the following may be the more important responsibility that has been abandoned by radio stations all over the country. Radio is famous within the advertising trade as being the medium that has been, pervasively and continuously, producing the worst examples ever of broadcast advertising.

Other than the ongoing din about the lack of “creativity”, through my entire career as a station employee, if not instigated by me, there was not one instance where the standard methods of writing and producing commercial copy were ever challenged. Commercials were always some combination of product/benefit/price - hooked into some or other absolute quantifier (best, only, greatest, most, etc.), mentioning a location and tagging with a demand to rush to the retailer immediately! “Hard sell” announcer deliveries were the default position, and we were defaulting most of the time.

I tell the story often that the spots I read last week are the same spots I was practicing in Studio B as a part-time kid at my local radio station in 1964. The only difference is in the placement of the decimal on the price point. That alone constitutes a roaring indictment of stagnation.

Since then, the electronic advertising arts have made tremendous strides – in creativity, in styles of presentation and, most significantly, in the understanding of the impact of broadcast advertising on the psyches of audiences. In spite of these advances, radio is still mired in the mud of the obsolete.

For many years, I had no particular quibbles with the state of radio advertising, other than the ubiquitous complaints of the systemic suppression of “creativity”. The emotional impact of “creativity” was, as is now, considered an unnecessary luxury that stole time from products, prices and strongly voiced admonitions to: “Hurry in today for your best deals!”

But, by the early ‘80’s, I was stricken by a body of information that would lead me to become an influential counselor and an exceptionally effective broadcast communicator. I say “stricken” because there have been times when I wondered if I hadn’t been so heavily armed as a broadcaster. I might have been better served by staying less educated and more apt to participate comfortably in the traditions of commercial radio. It’s a lamentation I have willingly tolerated.

Before continuing, I consider the following to be so important as to represent the main purpose of radio advertising – even though this element constitutes the other of the abdications that have (perhaps unknowingly) been forced on unsuspecting advertisers by radio’s ownership and management.

Clarity is required on this point: Radio has the responsibility to influence, cajole, or otherwise motivate audience members to support our advertising clients. Whether audience members need or can afford the product is of no consequence to us. Audiences, long ago, have accepted the commercials are there to do just that – influence. Caveat emptor applies.

The crimes and tragedies are in radio’s inability to do more, significant work in these areas. No. I am being too kind. Radio refuses to acquire the necessary education so it can demonstrate the efficacy of more intelligently crafted and, whenever possible, more creative approaches to the writing and production of spots.

Senior radio people are still eager to drag out Stan Freeberg’s demonstration of the often touted but rarely applied “Theatre-of-the-mind” concept – a production from the mid-‘60’s, fer cryin’ out loud.

Because of a combination of minimal, contemporary information being sought out or applied, a belief that modern spots are as effective as they need to be to maintain an, at least, minimal, acceptable standard, and the awareness of the added expenses of arranging for superior spots to be produced has left us (radio) aimlessly slogging around in the backwaters of a dank and smelly, electronic advertising bog.

Indeed, radio’s abdication of its two most important responsibilities is complete, but, I fear, not finished. More talent will either be scrapped or suppressed. The writing and production of more effective and, dare I venture, interesting commercials is not on any of radio’s to-do lists. More sophisticated and linguistically influential commercials are, if not in demand, then still required if radio wants to improve. I have little confidence of that happening, as well.
(Part 3 follows)

Ronald T. Robinson
info@voicetalentguy.com
pave
Advanced Member
 
Posts: 1444
Joined: Tue May 23, 2006 12:22 pm

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

Postby pave » Fri Sep 14, 2018 3:24 am

Radio’s Abandoned Responsibilities – Part 3
For what purpose, one wonders, is it to the benefit of the radio industry to take extraordinary steps to improve the effectiveness and appeal of locally produced commercials? Although so obvious as to render the question rhetorical, the correct answer is: To generate better results for the advertiser. A secondary, but noble consideration could be about making those spots more tolerable to an audience.

I do speculate that most radio practitioners have no idea how powerful their medium really is. Radio, despite its glaring lack of activity to improve, can still produce advertising results - even with the spectacularly shoddy local advertising being presented. Radio has been inhibiting itself through its not being aware of the impact on audiences of electronic media.

Meanwhile and for the last 50 years, radio commercials have taken a basic form: Prioritizing pertinent information about the product or service and making, sometimes direct and sometimes vague, comparisons to other, competing products in terms of price, benefits, quality and convenience. The spots then demand the audience get down to the retailer right away – with their wallets – as if the speaker had any authority at all. This approach is standard, and is the epitome of rude and crude.

Even so, not counting the included, annoyance factors, this approach is one of an attempt to apply logic, reason and some, but not necessarily valid evidence.

Q: And what, it has been often asked, is wrong with requesting (or telling) an audience to apply their intellectual capacities to indulge in rational, reasoned or comparative thought?
A: Much of a person’s intellectual capacities are avoided or get overrun when they are accessing any electronic medium! Intellect and reason seldom get fired up.
Q: What then, subjugates or takes the place of “reason” when an electronic medium is the source of the presented material?
A: Emotions, intuitions, previously imbedded beliefs, gut-feelings, fear, excitement, anxiety, passion, indignation, funny bone stimulation and others. Electronic media hooks into a sumptuous buffet of basic and base, human responses. “Intellectual thought” is secondary and is bypassed - relegated to another circumstance for another time.

As has often been mentioned in this space, the key is in how humans mentally process certain types of information from different (and differing) media – the “neurology” stuff. As the broadest of generalizations, any print medium will, primarily, impact on our capacities to reason, whereas electronic media goes, primarily, to our emotional functions. Open Season On Brains Declared.

Anytime a person’s capacities for critical thinking are bypassed, some very weird phenomena get demonstrated. Given the sources of most of our information – electronic – it is no wonder that people will: Pay for the most expensive medicine on the planet, vote for politicians they wouldn’t otherwise let walk their dogs, send their money to known (sometimes knowing) frauds for rewards that have never been proven to be rendered, and purchase numerous goods and services that provide nothing of value at prices that cannot be justified. The list is substantial. (Coke and Pepsi are prime examples. Johnny Walker Black gets a pass.)

Indeed, when electronic media are in the mix, we can be influenced, an we can be tricked. Sometimes it takes sophisticated messaging to do it, but it is still happening all the time. Blame “neurology”. If this information encourages the generation of a little suspicion, a little aggravation, a little anxiety, and a smidge of paranoia, my efforts here are not wasted.

Anytime that radio does participate at this level can be understood as a fortunate accident by any advertisers who benefit from such commercial flukes. To be sure, radio has taken no steps to exploit this information and still represents its commercial content as, essentially, newspaper-of-the-air. Radio has been stepping off this short pier for decades, and still wonders how it has been missing the boat.

Surprisingly, perhaps fortunately, there are models-of-communication available for radio that can bridge the gap between crudely applied, information-based, commercial content and full-blown, emotion-driving “creative”. Maybe, one day, some in radio’s leadership will want to see gangplanks before they step off that pier again.

“This information has been demonstrated and reinforced for decades,” insists the beakin’, boony blowhard. There is no evidence, however, that radio is learning – or interested.

Ronald T. Robinson
info@voicetalentguy.com
pave
Advanced Member
 
Posts: 1444
Joined: Tue May 23, 2006 12:22 pm

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

Postby pave » Tue Sep 18, 2018 9:38 pm

Radio’s Impending Surrender
For decades, I have been tippy-toeing through the field of land mines and other anti-personnel devices that have been liberally planted throughout radio’s general topography. Although I had been blown over by a few proximity concussions, and nicked by shrapnel that had decimated many of my peers and colleagues, I, too, even after demonstrating extraordinary effectiveness, was eventually taken off the field on my own shield. I would be less than candid if I did not also confess that I still do, occasionally, get a little twitchy.

And yes, from time to time, I find myself asking, “Why do I even bother?” (Short answer: The alternative is worse.) I am reminded of my days as a cub scout where I learned to tie a reef knot, sell apples and was instructed in the societal benefits of helping little old ladies cross the street. What was unaddressed was how to respond to little old ladies who a.) Didn’t want to go, and, b.) Were swinging purses packed with bricks.

Radio, similarly, has communicated no desire to cross any street. Radio, rather, has determined to stand steadfast, right where it has been for decades – a medium with no practical strategies to forge a new future for its audiences, its advertisers and its own future prosperity.

Radio owners have washed their hands of any responsibility to address future potentials of the medium and have, instead, hunkered down to polish only that propaganda that reinforces their firmly held, vacuous and unbelievably debilitating positions.

Today, the generally accepted “normal” for commercial radio is a Brutal Mediocrity. What makes the situation worse is how the industry actually defends the position with blatant lies and flowery justifications that would only be convincing to the most gullible and easily deluded. So, yes, there is still a very large portion of radio people who are tragically credulous, uninformed and unwilling to learn. Plus, they refuse to speak with anybody other than those who already agree with them. Might such a scenario ultimately deliver tragic consequences?

Meanwhile, radio pundits and apologists throw out in-vehicle listening as a marvelous boon for the industry, rather that the last-gasp, tenuous grip on available audience. While most talk-radio content serves as flame-producing accelerants to reinforce dysfunctional attitudes and squirrelly psychological positions in their easily coerced audiences, music radio gets picked up in the car, more or less, as a convenient afterthought. This is not a cause for celebration. This is cause for alarm!

In some environments, the following question would be considered reasonable, rational and legitimate: Why do these radio people refuse to make improvements? The quick & easy answers are: They are terrified to jeopardize whatever income streams they can protect, and, they have no idea what to do to alleviate the situation. They do, however, have an appreciation that whatever is required to launch a program of vast improvements to further embrace audiences and enhance advertisers’ fortunes is unlikely to come cheap. (I am satisfied the upfront expenses would not be all that great, especially when the results start rolling in.) Too bad inquiries are not being made.

Another matter is: It is not the ownership and management that are doing most of the bleeding. They pontificate, consult the dogma and deliriously fantasize battle plans well behind the front lines. Employees are told to hold their positions with parchment shields and peashooters. Then the orders come down to counter-attack. Too bad it is that audiences and advertisers make up the village inhabitants that get wiped out in the ensuing carnage. (The “enemy”, by the way, has yet to be identified, and they sure haven’t been located. But, they’re out here – somewhere.)

Another workable metaphor might be that of the lemmings. Radio’s ownership orders everybody else up to the ledge and into the abyss while assuring the gang the endeavor is a noble sacrifice to those hungry, capricious and jealous radio gods. Still, delaying tactics, and ignoring any evidence not consistent with supporting the status quo qualifies as excellent justifications for abdicating responsibilities. It serves quite nicely. White flags are in the front office, desk drawers - and the get-away vehicles are idling out back.

Meanwhile, I saw Shawshank Redemption. So, I won’t say “obtuse”.

Ronald T. Robinson
info@voicetalentguy.com
pave
Advanced Member
 
Posts: 1444
Joined: Tue May 23, 2006 12:22 pm

Previous

Return to General Radio News

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 40 guests