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 8:01 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
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Fri Aug 31, 2018 3:18 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
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Sun Sep 09, 2018 6:04 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
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Fri Sep 14, 2018 2:24 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
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Tue Sep 18, 2018 8:38 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
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Mon Sep 24, 2018 3:41 am

A Radio Communication Combo
Here is a portion of a discussion I have been enjoying with a former station owner:

Hi, Steve:
Before providing some of the distinctions I promised - a little pre-ramble.

There are many radio guys who would wholeheartedly agree with your staffing and content suggestions. It does seem reasonable to presume that audiences would appreciate and support a radio station that was providing such fuller services.

But, would they really? The speculative, but still correct answer has to be: "Sometimes. Maybe, and Depends." The final crunch, however, would include: "But, not likely."

Additional staff providing informational content, as you know, comes with a fairly hefty load on the overhead. Still, senior managers, when preparing their “wish-lists”, are constantly arguing for such services to be returned to the airwaves along with "live & local" presenters across all day parts.

Please note: While such a situational environment would be desirable, especially to a manager with significant tenure, there is no evidence whatsoever that demonstrates the strategy, if implemented, would actually pay off.

Further, programming coaches and consultants have been trying forever to figure out the kinds of content and the placement of those elements in order to be more appealing to their target audiences. Getting into music selection, meanwhile, has always been about being sucked into a vortex from which there is no escape. Of course, all those factors need to be addressed, but my assertion has always been that those elements are, practically, of a SECONDARY nature.

Essentially, those discussions are about CONTENT. That is to say, WHAT, specifically, will be going on the air. And WHEN, specifically.

What radio has been ignoring, overlooking or refusing to address for decades is: The PROCESS. In other words, HOW, specifically, the content is to be delivered.

We can consider the implications of the following: Every mechanic at every local auto dealership is better trained in his or her specialty than any on-air presenter or hype-typer in the copy stall. That's extraordinary! That’s calamitous, and it is also the case.

During the first 16 years of my on-air career, I was running on raw talent, acquired experience and the traditions of the industry that I had integrated into my understandings and performances.

If quizzed, there was no way I could explain or demonstrate the impact of the spoken word emanating from an electronic medium. Nor did I have educated options on how to render certain information in more powerful, influential and acceptable manners.

I had no idea, never mind educated understandings, of the impact on listeners of:
• tonalities
• timbres
• differing speeds of delivery
• the use of relative vocal volumes
• the influence of adjectives
• the power of adverbs
• the sneaky effects of using different verb tenses
• the impact of exploiting sensory modalities and descriptives
• the fact that radio, rather than being a direct medium, is an INdirect medium
• that radio has no authority and is in no position to make any demands for behaviors
• that radio never has, isn't now and never can be a "one-to-one" experience
• that audiences understand complex linguistic patterns far better and more than they can reproduce
• that inferences and subtle implications are more effective than direct instructions

Each of those points, and many others, deserve further explanations and working examples which, if to be rendered as useful, applied strategies would need to be addressed in a seminar setting - with ongoing coaching and a requirement that students are able to demonstrate their abilities.

Any local, music-oriented station, I believe, would literally kill in their market; would hold audience for longer periods and generate significant return listening - to the point of loyalty. Copywriters employing the same techniques and strategies would be getting far stronger, even gangbuster results for their station’s local advertisers.

All of these techniques, and more that have gone unlisted, Steve, are completely foreign to radio; they do not depend on any "creativity" in the presenters; they supply alternative approaches for bread & butter on-air deliveries and bread & butter spot production. These techniques are about solid, new communicative SKILLS. Anything else of a creative nature would be the bonus - woven in to a presentation.

Adding additional staff for specialty presentations - news, sports, community events etc. can be considered after the results of training an on-air and writing staff make the exercise viable and even more profitable. And, oh yeah. The new hires get the same training. In this case, seniority don’ count for nuthin’. The folks, as well, gotta learn to talk good English.

Ronald T. Robinson
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Tue Oct 02, 2018 8:24 pm

Radio’s Failure To Evolve
“People and the organizations they generate tend to: Find out what doesn’t work – and to do it harder.” That was put forward when I was training to do counselling work. Next, we were challenged, if we had any doubts, to demonstrate otherwise. This presupposition applied particularly to those who were not getting the results they wanted for themselves.

This working presupposition applies to most of contemporary, music-based radio. The medium has not evolved, nor has it adapted to a far different environment than existed even 30 years ago. As an entertainment and, more importantly, as an advertising medium, radio is being pushed off the table. Even as there is still a nice chunk o’ change being spent on the medium, radio is still running the risk of experiencing, if not a complete extinction, then a slide into irrelevance.

There are self-sabotaging elements in the behaviors radio has been continuously and consistently generating for these decades. There are no acceptable responses to the charges that radio has wrecked at least three of the necessary factors that are required for the medium to just hang on, never mind flourish.

1. Because the information is the most recent addition to the medium, I will mention it first. Yes, radio crows about maintaining much of its traditional reach – and rightfully so. However, even more useful data – good crunchable numbers - is available that might just satisfy any number of ongoing and potential advertisers using the medium to attain much more satisfying results. Getting that data in front of advertisers is the responsibility of the sales department.

2. It is not the responsibility of the sales department to write interesting, appealing and effective copy. They don’t know how, nor are they expected to. Actually, they are expected to do just that – as if generating influential copy was something done on the way over to visit with an advertising client. Sales people writing copy – under instructions from the client – has become an exercise in the alternate use of table napkins.

3. Radio’s on-air talents have become akin to the homeless who are scurrying for higher ground during the onslaught of a flooding event from a major storm. There are no longer opportunities to hone their craft or to learn the nuances of what it is they are supposed to be doing – appeal effectively to audiences. That a whole other methodology of communicating to a broadcast audience has been developed over the years is completely out of the awareness of the on-air practitioners who are running for their lives while dragging along all their worldly belongings. All managers and owners are willing to do is hold some high ground, look below them at a panicked throng of on-air presenters and mutter, “Poor devils”.

Similar to science-deniers everywhere, radio’s ownership refuses to factor in what, for other, reasonable people is overwhelming evidence that what they are doing is simply not working. So they do it harder. Indeed, radio is neither evolving and it sure as hell ain’t adapting either.

So obvious are radio’s maladies to the business community that they feel totally justified in ignoring the medium as a viable and effective advertising medium. Audiences, meanwhile, continue to complain bitterly about the phusterclucking of lousy spots and the particularly unsatisfying contribution of the on-air presenters – whether “live” or ‘tracked.

Owners continue to whine, snivel and otherwise yip about the cost of talent and the huge hit to the bottom line that would arrive with the hiring of competent writers - as if anybody else gave a rat’s ass. This is something they moan about, but only to each other, whenever they can find a sympathetic ear.

Elsewhere, fawning all over legislators who can de-regulate the industry even more has become the hobby-of-choice for those broadcasters who are having difficulty describing a “level playing field”. They can’t do it. They still figure it’s the onslaught of other media that is busting up the old gang. They refuse to consider they might be screwing themselves over.

Natural Selection and Random Mutation – Evolution – operate too slowly for this crowd to get off the downhill slope. This is especially the case given they are operating against their own best interests.

Ronald T. Robinson
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Wed Oct 10, 2018 8:57 pm

Nerd Alert: Intensifying Tenses

Based on my own education, my experience on-the-air and in the generation of commercial copy, I can assert that, at no time, has radio ever addressed the multiple linguistic distinctions that can be made to enhance the appeal and effectiveness of the medium.

Now, I have no expectations the general readership of this piece are going to find what follows to be anywhere close to exciting. My experience of cold reality checks of the interest of the industry to make any improvements whatsoever in these elements of communications.

Even as ownership and management are grumbling and lamenting the severe lack of available and competent on-air presenters, I also note how so very few are sniveling about the dearth of competent copywriters – where any still exist. Actual copywriters are cowering in their dank, airless and lonely cubicles where their main tasks are about maintaining a low profile, and clinging to their hanging-by-a-thread gigs.

For far too long, the management mantra has been either, “Our sales staff can write the copy.” The other one is, “We could get a monkey to do this job.” To my knowledge, humans are the only primates that have been developing language. And that process has been continuing for tens of thousands of years. The exceptions to that would be those in radio. They quit learning decades ago, and are our now seized up – stultified.

Introducing: Perhaps this premise can be considered as being an acceptable definition of what we are supposed to be doing as radio presenters: Our responsibility then, is about influencing the subjective, internal experiences of a listening audience.

When we are awake, we are experiencing the world consciously and unconsciously. We are also experiencing the external world and the world of our internal representations. These are elements that are happening with everyone, and at all times. Further, we are experiencing and representing the world with our senses. What we see, hear, feel, taste and smell on the outside are being processed in our minds, as well, but not necessarily as equal or accurate equivalencies.

The act of “thinking” comes with no assurances of accuracy. Meanwhile, Earl Nightingale, the author and presenter of the ground breaking talk, The Strangest Secret”, opened the program this way:
“I would like to tell you about the strangest secret in the world. Not long ago, Albert Schweitzer, the great Doctor and Nobel Prize winner was being interviewed in London and a reporter asked him, “Doctor, what’s wrong with men today?” The great doctor was silent a moment, and then he said, “Men simply don’t think!” And it’s about this that I want to talk with you.”
Since the 1950’s when Mr. Nightingale created his program, an enormous amount of research and study on how our brains function/think has been tested and established as useful.

A quick reminder: Our responsibility as radio communicators is about influencing the subjective, internal experiences of a listening audience.

Participating in this little exercise is an opportunity for appreciating a significant distinction in how a specific strategy of applying verb tenses impacts on a listener’s internal representations.
• First, pick a particularly enjoyable weekend from the past.
• With closed eyes, say this sentence as a piece of internal dialogue: “I had a great weekend.”
• Note the internal image generated by that statement.
• Now, do the internal dialogue this way: “I was having a great weekend.”
• Note the internal image that statement is generating.
When attention is being paid, the most common reports are: The first statement gets an internal, still image – like a photo.
The second statement usually is generating a moving, visual image – a video.

Weird, but, if a communicator is intending to motivate an audience member to taking action, the message would be more influential when that message is also generating an active, internal representation.

Hence, using the present progressive tense starts making sense – just by adding “ing” to the verbs.

That singular demonstration is but a small part of the linguistic distinctions to which on-air communicators and writers have yet to be paying any attention whatsoever. The “Nerd Alert” is now suspended.

P.S. Most of this blog is applying the present progressive tense.

Ronald T. Robinson
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Mon Oct 15, 2018 2:13 am

Nerd Alert II: This Is Not A Drill
While a number of readers who were considering my most recent, Nerd Alert: Intensifying Tenses were kind in their emailed responses, I am wondering why none of them went so far as to suggest they were committing to applying the technique right away. Drastic transformations in radio’s communications models are the first necessities.

I have been told – through their emails – that their station’s main priority is: Maintaining sales. While an understandable and reluctantly accepted, but still challenged position, I am compelled to assert the most this strategy will be accomplishing is delaying an inevitable decline in revenues.

One of my respondents was particularly candid and volunteered that station managers were “distracted” so much they were unable to deal with any other clearly advantageous opportunities. He also speculated there was a lot of “laziness” within the ranks. Again, as those are reasonably accurate comments, the situation in which radio finds itself is still not alleviated.

To be candid, I am still unconvinced that ownership has even begun to accept the responsibility – the need – to start making drastic improvements in the processes of actually communicating more effectively to a radio audience. The available strategies, to be worthwhile, must apply to both on-air presentations and the writing of commercials, especially locally produced spots.

(Enter: Nerd Alert From Alert Nerd.)

As demonstrated before, in this space, and from other credible sources: People, including radio listeners, are constantly processing externally provided, sensory input. From this, we derive meanings. We do this unconsciously and by applying those processes in the form of another set of internally generated, sensory representations. It is entirely subjective and everybody’s doing it – all the time. Anybody who is not processing the inputs is of no concern to radio’s management. This would be mostly because – that individual would be dead.

That process actually has a technical name: “Doug”. Okay, that’s not it. The real name is: Transderivational Search. Another name that is far less expensive is: “Thinking”. Every communicator in every medium has the opportunity to influence the one receiving the messaging to: Think different, like, y’know?

Every message we receive from the outside world arrives in a sensual modality. That is, we hear something, see something, something physically touches us, we smell something and/or we taste something. Only after processing that information do we also generate feelings – depending on how we execute the Transderivational Search. Since that thinking thingy is pervasive, it would behoove on-air presenters and copywriters to a.) Become aware of the processes, and b.) Apply the information to their vocations.

As a broad, but useful generalization: Very few on-air presenters and radio copywriters ever meet adjectives or adverbs they shouldn’t avoid. I mean, supplying those kinds of descriptives in copy only takes time away for one more piece of product, or puts a jock over their on-air time limit.

Meanwhile, since "Linguistic Rocketologists" are, and have been demonstrating the principle all day – for years, I think I’ll take a poke at it, too. We begin with the word “dog”.

• For a person to derive any meaning from the word, they are automatically compelled to do a TDS, and establish an internal, subjective visual of some or other cur.
• Next, adding the word “snarling” generates a further audio portion and adjusts any original internal image. Some internal feelings are developing.
• Throwing in the adverb “viciously” starts generating more intense feelings in the individual hearing the communication.
• Expanding the description, a communicator adds: “… with damp, matted, foul-smelling fur.” – another modifying and enhancing visual and an aromatically splendid (olfactory) addition.
• Might as well get crazy…. “The enraged, wild-eyed animal is drooling over titanium-capped fangs.”

This description is a subjectively unique process to anyone who is exposed to the messaging. What is significant is how the feelings of a listener would be intensifying with each additional element. I am satisfied that only a few radio operators acknowledge how feelings are the prime motivators for buying, especially when delivered through electronic media.

By the way, the dog I was describing was a cute, but still crazed, little Shih Tzu named: “Muffy”. Other readers were (likely} forming, in their imaginations, a different breed altogether. (The Nerd Alert is now suspended.)

Ronald T. Robinson
info@voicetalentguy.com
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Mon Oct 22, 2018 3:45 am

Nerd Alert III: Taking Cover

"If you don't give me the deed to your ranch, I'm gonna throw you on the railroad track." The Coasters and Ray Stevens both had hits with the song, “Along Came Jones”. Our hero, “Jones”, of course, always arrives in the nick-o’-time to save Sweet Sue from certain calamity. Radio, I submit, is gagged, bagged and lying on tracks of its own construction. “Jones” is nowhere in sight. Might as well leave then, as the credits are already rolling up.

So, what is it, generally, that radio does – internally – while attempting to make a living? We talk at, an audience made up of people we don’t know. We are incapable of talking to - anyone, specifically. As to the very few we might know: We still don’t know if they are listening at any given time. This audience can’t see us walkin’, so the best we can hope for is: They can hear us talkin’. With what degrees of concentration and intensity they are listening to us are purely matters of conjecture, along with a heavy hit of wishful thinking – on our part. Audiences hanging on every word? That’s a concept that exists only in our fantasies.

Since talkin’ good is the most important aspect of what we do when we’re on the air – “live”, tracked or in recorded spots - it is not unreasonable to assume that broadcast communicators are sweating blood, busting their humps and gleefully engaged in order to become the best possible communicators on the planet. They would be on this quest because it is the most important aspect of their careers. Right?

A momentary digression: “There was a time when I used to be really handsome and cute”, I have said to folks and a few were willing to stick around to hear the rest. For those that did, I continued. “For the last twenty years or so, I have, however, had to make it strictly on personality. (Pause.) So you can imagine how lonely I’ve been.” (ba-da-boom-gish!)

With the rarest of exceptions, radio has been trying to make it on personality. Okay, I take that back. That’s lie! It has taken awhile, but radio is succeeding in rounding up anyone who sets off its internal, “personality alarms” and exposing them to bags of ether, gallons of Kool-Aid and a side trip over to the railroad tracks and, without a word being uttered, the Talent receives and understands the message.

It is into this environment that the carpet-bagging, interloping, snake oil sales and all-round Flim Flam man (myself) steps up to point out a complete collapse in any effort to improve the state of broadcast communications – not that there were any attempts being made anyway. There weren’t then, and there aren’t now. So, I guess the “collapse” reference is unnecessary.

When I speak to the complete and utter lack of communicative skills being demonstrated all day and every day at stations all over the country, the element that holds the least impact is “vocabulary”. To be sure, having immediate access to a vocabulary that would give pause to a sixth-grader would be, how shall I say it – really nice? No. It would be all the other aspects of communicating to a broadcast audience that take precedence.

Superior command of a substantially greater than average vocabulary can often be perceived, by some in the audience, as an arrogance – occasionally referred to as “snootiness” – a major flaw of the speaker. A reminder: Linguistic Rocketologists are regularly demonstrating that people still understand vocabulary that they cannot replicate.

I will repeat some of the key elements that were provided not so long ago. When understood and applied, these are the factors that generate influence:
• Tonalities
• Differing speeds of delivery
• The use of relative vocal volumes
• The influence of adjectives
• The power of adverbs
• The sneaky effects of using different verb tenses
• The impact of exploiting sensory modalities and descriptions
• That radio has no authority and is in no position to make any demands for behaviours
• That radio never has been, isn't now and never can be a "one-to-one" experience
• That inferences and subtle implications are more effective than direct instructions.

Nerd Alert III is now lifted.

Ronald T. Robinson
info@voicetalentguy.com
pave
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Fri Oct 26, 2018 2:41 am

Radio’s Unrealized Power and Glory
Radio slinks into the Media Arena Maximus with only two things in mind: Staying alive, and charging the exits. The second thing is useful contingent on pulling off the first thing. No assurances. Coaches in the underground holding pens encourage combatants to: “Keep your heads up – unless keeping them down works better.”

Radio has been slurping on the hind one for so long, most participants have little memory of circumstances being any different. Radio has also been scrounging for scraps and leftovers for an equal amount of time and is still resentful of those small mercies. “It’s no sumptuous buffet,” whimpers the industry leadership. “But, at least we get to keep body and soul together,”

Further, radio has gone to extreme lengths in molding perfectly fitting cement sneakers for itself, and then wonders, “What’s happening?” as it launches itself into the deeper parts of the river – where the piranha are leisurely lurking in their evolutionary superior state. This, while the practiced groupthink of the razor-toothed predators is: “Not to worry, darling. Dinner will be along directly.”

Radio, meanwhile, implements a strategy of, “Well, maybe because we look so emaciated, we might appear particularly unappetizing, and they will ignore us.” But wouldn’t you just know it? The Piranha tribes maintain their enviable positions by eating, uh, everything!

Okay, that was fun, but only for me – although reluctantly so. Radio operators, however, could swipe a line from my sainted, Scottish mother-in-law. “That’s no funny.” Nobody enjoys having an already cracked mirror held up, especially when people are in their ugly mode.

But, hark! There is, in all of this, a ray of sunshine that doesn’t have to be pounded up any particular orifice, but that can be enjoyed for the benefits of its light, heat and radioactive nourishment. So, here is the good news: Radio Has An Innate Power!

Harnessing and directing this amazing power can lead to extraordinary amounts of even greater influence than that which it is currently experiencing. Even better ROI? Yes, indeedy!

The following are holdovers from the most recent surge of “Nerd Alerts”. Again, these are broader generalizations - to avoid arguments about a few exceptions and any sniveling that might crop up.

So. All electronic media impact on human beings in similar fashions. Radio has delivery and production advantages because it is an audio only electronic medium. Electronic media are impacting, literally, as emotion-generating sources. Credible Neuro Rocketologists have also been demonstrating for an embarrassing (for radio) amount of time that radio messaging, primarily, bypasses the critical thinking (rational) capacities of our brains and zeros in on our emotion processing capacities.

That’s how, when delivered through electronic media, Truth can take an extended holiday and facts have only to schlep the luggage. That may sound somewhat sinister, but many exploiters are being sinister with their electronically delivered messaging. Radio doesn’t help the exploiters all that much because: Radio doesn’t yet know how to do it!

Radio, generally and practically, only wants to attract and hold bigger audiences and to have those listeners buying more stuff - demonstrating greater effectiveness for advertisers. Radio only has two elements on which to concentrate: How we are supposed to be talking at (not to) audiences, and the included noises (sfx & bg tunes) to support the spoken messaging.

Operators who have yet to become aware of, and implement these principles are missing extraordinary opportunities. It is incumbent on them to: Become aware of, learn, embrace, and then, apply the principles of more effective communications. Radio – both on-air and in ad production – is (comparatively) so incredibly inexpensive to present! There are NO acceptable justifications for walking away from such opportunities or responsibilities.

The way advertisers, and the ad-world in general, considers radio, reminds me of those exciting, thoroughly entertaining centuries when The Roman Empire took such gore-splashing glee while sacrificing members of despised Christian cults - at the time, labeled by the Romans as “atheists” - as a murderous form of Pro Sports, where beer, pizza, cavorting slaves, unimagined cruelties and wagering kiosks were also provided. The Caesars knew how to keep the throngs thoroughly engaged. Radio, unfortunately, enjoys no such knowledge and, therefore, makes no such valuable and motivating distinctions.

Ronald T. Robinson
info@voicetalentguy.com
pave
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Tue Oct 30, 2018 8:20 pm

What’s It Going To Take?

“What’s It Going To Take…” - is the title of this blog which I have been writing for the last 12 years. It started out as a plaintiff howl in the wilderness, and it remains so today. But, I still did have an agenda. Since I am fully prepared to, and have provided many of the required answers anyway, the title takes the form of a rhetorical question.

What, then, did I not know? I (foolishly) assumed that many of radio’s leadership would consider the new material as examples of reasonable alternatives to the traditions that were literally ruining the industry. I also assumed that some of the principals would recognize the benefits of applying the provided methods, take appropriate actions and celebrate with high-fives and congrats - at the bank.

That the vast majority of radio practitioners have yet to understand, never mind accept the neurologically demonstrated realities of radio being, primarily, an emotion-generating medium, as opposed to a medium that exploits the rational capacities of listeners, staggers me still. I admit: I’m stumped, stymied, perplexed and generally – buffaloed. But, then again, I overstate. I lie. I am not really or completely stumped. I shall explain:

By the time I was being fitted for my Coach and Counselor’s Cap, I had been educated in the many and varied ways we (people) can get screwed up and screwed over by tradition, social and cultural dogma, religious dogma and yes, organizational and institutional dogma. In another word: Indoctrinated. Radio included.

Bound and gagged by so much communicative dogma have we become, that we have rendered ourselves: impotent in the marketplace, and crippled in our ability to respond and make absolutely necessary changes. If that sounds just a tad alarmist, it is because radio is very close to pushing the “panic” button with the hope that somebody arrives with hooks, ladders and fairly big hoses. (There is a story that the Titanic sailed while a small, unsuppressed fire was burning in a coal bunker – weakening the steel along that portion of the hull.) Even if a myth, it still makes a hell of a radio analogy.

Meanwhile, I was also trained to work with people to adjust their patterns-of-thinking – their models-of-their-world, so to speak – in order to make useful, desirable and satisfactory adjustments in their behaviors. Part of those processes consisted of making extremely precise adjustments in my own patterns-of language - in order to gain rapport and the influence with which to teach my clients.

Since I had been a "radio guy" for the previous 16 years, the realization that we (radio) could apply those same language patterns to communicating to a radio audience – with profound results – became one of the few real epiphanies of my life - certainly, my career. In that moment of real-time clarity, I remember stealing a line from my dad: “Holy snappin’ arseholes!!” he would say.

So. What is it going to take to, primarily, get radio back on the rails? An abrupt, industry-wide crash might be motivating. But, to some degree, that is exactly what is occurring right now – only in slo’ mo’. One hopes that something a little less drastic and crippling could be introduced to head such a horrible eventuality off at the pass, especially since the bridge up ahead has been blown to smithereens by that heathen and vicious gang of digital desperadoes.

Radio makes some legitimate claims to a significant ROI for advertisers who are prepared to properly invest in the medium. The harsh reality, however, is this: The ROI, as currently delivered by radio, is nowhere near good enough! Only massive improvements in the ROI can justify more advertiser participation and much higher rates.

Radio still enjoys a worthwhile reach. It’s in all the trades. Neat. Add a buck ninety-five, and we can get ourselves a medium cup of coffee. Bragging rights on "reach" are overblown and, practically - worthless.

Sophisticated sales executives have been pretzling themselves into, well, pretzels, while providing techniques for the rank & file reps to better engage advertisers – in order to flog the same sludge we have been hawking for decades. Might be a problem. Fundamental change to how radio communicates is… what it’s going to take.

Ronald T. Robinson
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pave
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Mon Nov 05, 2018 2:26 am

If Radio Was A Product
Although touted as an Entertainment/Information/Advertising service, what would be the implications if radio were, instead, considered a product? It is important to realize that radio, generally, is too often accepted as: Questionable as an entertainment medium, suppressed as an information medium and haphazard as an advertising medium. It is from those presuppositions that we begin.

Hard goods, it can be noted, almost always come with some form of guarantees or warranties. Agricultural produce arrives with assurances. Pharmaceuticals, for those who can afford them, include warnings of side effects. Auto manufactures are forced by the competitive nature of their industry and government stipulations to supply comprehensive warranties that are quite impressive.

Most service companies stand by the work they do – lots of times. Even insurance companies make vague statements about coming through in the pinch. Insurance company cruelties, however, come with no warranties whatsoever. More recently, Republican politicians operate under no constraints of any kind. They are free to promise/ lie and, otherwise, roam the territory with impunity as they assault the psyches of uninformed and gullible voters. Lying promises do not constitute ironclad guarantees.

Given all the other pressures under which radio finds itself operating, practitioners can still heave a quick sigh of relief that this industry is not held accountable – not in any meaningful or disturbing way. Just as well that we are in the “advertising game”, where there are winners and losers. Ours is a caveat emptor situation where “Ya puts yer money down and ya takes yer chances.”

Advertisers are more likely to consider radio in particular as one of those “throwing crap against the wall” deals. Charming. But then, since we have worked so hard to attain that status, one could wonder how it is we are hardly braggin’ on it. (Nobody is wondering or braggin’.)

Radio is not a product. And for that, we can pause to thank our lucky stars. Radio cannot be compared to a decomposing Lada, a flaming Pinto or a Corvair that couldn’t stay on the road because there was so little traction on the front end. (I found that out the hard way, and so did my mom – same Monza, separate occasions.)

Now, let’s take a moment to get downright silly. We can down a couple of brown pops and have some laffs. Stand by for major yuks. The giggle-fest begins by posing a fairly simple, possibly innocuous, question:

Should radio deliver guarantees to its advertisers? While some readers may already be spitting up through gales of laughter, others can agree how that’s just too hilarious – even hysterical. Guarantees on radio advertising? Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha! (Sorry. I can’t help myself.)

Of course, the default position on that one has always been: “Well, um, uh, there are too many variables and extenuating circumstances that prohibit our offering any guarantees that advertising with our station will bring your store satisfactory results.” Good one, huh? Slicker ‘n goose goop.

When I was being trained up as a child behind the shed through the brisk applications of a hickory switch, I was still able to maintain and recover some abilities to make distinctions – otherwise known as “reality checks”.

To be sure, when a lawn and garden furniture and supplies outlet arranges for a station remote for the following weekend – with free coffees, balloons for the kiddies and really whizzy rotating and blinking lights on the station van, expectations can be quite high. However, if a Cat 2 storm comes rolling in that Saturday, those same expectations get trashed, and the station van floats away. “Extenuating circumstances.”

If another similar retailer buys another station with a remote and a heavier rotation of lead-up promos, is that an acceptable bailout variable? Those possibilities, and others, can be factored in while negotiating the contract, including any riders that might apply, like only red jellybeans for the Talent.

All of this silliness hides the REAL issue. The REAL issue is that radio is still unable to supply the commercial advertising and on-air performances that would allow for the station’s confidence to provide any guarantees! Announcers at the remotes are run-of-the-mill or part-time help. The produced commercials are, practically, of no particular consequence. No guarantees. Hopa-Hopa clan membership is all that’s included.

Ronald T. Robinson
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