What's It Going To Take...?

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

Postby pave » Wed Dec 27, 2017 7:20 am

I Don’t Much Care For Radio
This may not come as a bolt from the blue to regular readers. For years, my position has been that radio has consistently and with suspicious vigour, been throwing itself into the bramble bushes. Actually, that’s not completely accurate. What is closer to the truth is that radio heaves its on-air and creative department staffs into the briar patch.

At some point in the distant past, an executive who used to run a fleet of dry cleaning outfits, while nursing a severe hangover, wandered into the head office of a well-known radio conglomerate, foisted himself off as an “efficiency expert, got hired and commenced to ruining an industry. Other snoozing CEO’s noticed how costs were being substantially chopped down the street, made their own talent say, “Baaa” and moved them into the fleecing shed.

I’m not bitter. My distress about radio has no psychological causes. Besides, my angst can be treated with pharmaceuticals, cigarettes, scotch and deep massages. This is exceptionally good news as, because of Canada’s health care system, they’re all free!

I listen to radio with the same concern with which cattle ranchers monitor their herds – just to make sure some of those cows aren’t forming groups and concocting sinister plots. But, it’s safe to say radio staffs, long ago, have been “cowed”, so to speak, and are now rendered as completely passive and obedient.

As has been mentioned often, my threshold for what constitutes effective and listenable radio has never been met. There were times, to be sure, when radio was much more creative and interesting, but I wouldn’t expect the majority of contemporary radio’s participants to have any experience or recall of those references.

Radio’s ownership and management are suffering from ideological delusions. Most don’t know what radio has been; they don’t know what radio could be and the status quo, although not particularly satisfying, is acceptable – the default position of an entire industry. Most importantly, when it comes to discussing strategies to make massive improvements – they come out empty - and in ill humour.

Whenever I go up and down the dial, I am almost always met with banality. Whether someone is “live & local”, voice-tracked or delivering a milquetoast syndication, the chances of being intrigued, entertained or intellectually or emotionally challenged are extremely low. Asking any listener to tolerate such a vacuous environment is beyond goofy. Radio’s continued reach would be startling if it weren’t for the fact of the default, unconscious, neurological processes that listens experience.

Special prosecutors may have to be summoned in order to investigate the state of radio commercial presentations and the abuse of the people who are forced to write and produce them. Having to listen through multiple clusters of these nasty, speedily produced and insulting productions counts as audience torturing, as well.

Actually, it is not a mystery – not to me and not to people who have done their homework. The neurological processes that are automatically and unconsciously engaged by an audience, bypasses much of the intellectual and rational components of their experience. If those elements were really being engaged, audiences would be showing up at the station’s doors with rotten vegetables.

In the meantime, let’s be clear of commercial radio’s mandate: To attract and maintain as many listeners as we can for as long as we can for the purpose of exposing them to commercials that are designed to influence and yes, manipulate those listeners to make purchases they would not ordinarily make without being exposed to those commercials.

Radio not only fails miserably at carrying out those mandates, it doesn’t seem to care all that much and, in fact, goes out of its way to reject any such responsibility. I am also willing to opine that radio has yet to go so far as to accept any of those mandates as being important, useful or worthy of much serious consideration.

Meanwhile, my wife is lighting a floating candle in a carved-out piece of rock from a shoreline close by. The candle, she tells me, is releasing the spirits of Lake Superior. I should be feeling much better in a short while.

And so, I regret I am compelled to retain the position. Given the exceptions of a number of spectacular talents, I don’t much care for radio – as it is today.

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 » Fri Dec 29, 2017 8:15 am

Before And Beyond Creative
With the passing of the extraordinary, but still suspiciously suspicious “Chickenman”, aka Dick Orkin, Miss Helfinger can now lead a life of her own. Meanwhile, many generations of radio executives who have been exposed to the productions from the Radio Ranch have said, "That's the kind of stuff we should be doing - someday." We abuse and waste our own medium, systematically and with spectacularly self-defeating efficiencies.

Further, radio dogma persists, and there are extreme, painful penalties meted out to those poor devils that suggest otherwise or challenges them. Dogma #1: Actual Radio Creative is time consuming, expensive, difficult to write and produce, and, oh yeah – it doesn’t work!

For those stations that are incapable of producing anything more than noxious, cookie cutter “direct response” ads, clinging to those edicts would be the necessary, go-to position. The only portion that does reside in the category of “myth” is the “it doesn’t work” part. That part is pure myth. The rest of them, while true, are still a cover for incompetence and a spectacular lack of motivation. Please appreciate: I am not suggesting replacing direct response ads with pure creative. That is an impossibility. But those DR ads can certainly be spruced up to be more effective - and listenable.

Throwing “creative” into this discussion is like spreading a pail of red herrings all over the deck and declaring, “Here! Argue about these, instead!” Many would jump at the invitation, and days of fruitless blithering would ensue. But, be assured: Very few in radio’s leadership are paying much attention, anyway.

Let’s be clear: Radio Creative is occasionally applied to generate the retention of interest in listening to the ads, and to generate emotions in an audience. This is in order to influence them for the benefit of the station and its advertisers. This approach, this process, is far more powerful than simply delivering content information.

Reasonable, educated and experienced radio personnel would immediately agree, and suggest it would be a good time to break for lunch - moving on to other, more pressing matters on the agenda later.

Copy writers, from their station gulags, are constantly having messages smuggled out that decry their plight of having to scribble toxic, noxious drivel that is delivered to sales reps and, in turn, foisted off to advertisers as “actual advertising”. What, to my mind, is even more spectacular is how the advertisers themselves have not only come to expect this (alleged) bilge, they insist on it! To the degree that these lowest common denominator messages still work has always been the fallback justification – and amazement to many.

Copy writers jumped into the business because of a desire to create advertising art that would be appealing and motivating. Instead, they have been given blunt tools and told to produce smaller rocks from bigger rocks - all the while being chafed by their manacles.

Meanwhile, I am obliged to confess my own failure at getting through to those who could take the necessary steps to make massive improvements to their own organizations.

All the (above), however, has certainly not been the only or the main crux of my position or my messaging. Otherwise erstwhile, smart, intelligent, well-meaning and professional broadcasters, I submit, have yet to key in on the more important elements of radio communications. “Creative” works better. Yes, we all get that. At least, I would hope so. It is more expensive and more difficult to produce. We all get that, too.

The most important aspects of communicating to a radio audience have yet to be addressed. Fortunately, there are a few extremely credible and professional radio practitioners who are beginning to lean in another, worthwhile direction, mostly based on the following, new appreciations of how, specifically, this medium works.

- Radio, despite the acceptance of all traditions, is not as effective as a direct, authoritarian, conscious-accessing or organic medium.
- Radio, instead, is more effective when it is understood as an INdirect, non-authoritarian, UNconscious accessing, and electronic medium.

What all this means is: A completely new (to radio) system of language communications must be added to the linguistic mix in order to take advantage of and exploit the new paradigm.

By “proven” I mean: proven in countless neurological studies at the cost of thousands of cruelly martyred lab-rats, and supported by numerous anecdotal demonstrations. It would take the hubris of a science-denier to mount any counter arguments. These would become examples of delusional meanderings.

We really can/could move past any philosophical arguments here as the strategies, techniques and methodologies to exploit the new paradigm already exist and are ready for implementation. They apply equally to on-air talent presentations, as well.

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 » Thu Jan 11, 2018 5:15 am

Playing A Request
Because of a single, but still urgent request for more than I provided in my last piece, I feel obliged to continue.
The main premises of the previous article were:
- Radio, despite the acceptance of all traditions, is not as effective when delivered as a direct, authoritarian, conscious-accessing medium.
- Radio, instead, is more effective when it is presented as an INdirect, non-authoritarian, UNconscious-accessing, electronic medium.

People in general, and radio’s leadership in particular, have no idea whatsoever of how audiences are accessing every electronic medium. A simplified explanation of this circumstance would be: While content is a factor, the power lies in the process!
Electronic media scrambles audience brains extraordinarily well – turns our cranial innards into mushy, pliable putty.

I emphasize pliable because listeners to, and viewers of, electronic media become much more easily influenced and, indeed, more easily manipulated without their knowledge! There are truckloads of verifying neurological research and as many anecdotal examples available to anyone who might be paying attention. (Note: This is not a conspiracy theory – not yet. But, it does have a vast range of sinister potentials – for those who might find this kind of thing intriguing.)

Over these last decades, when presenting portions of the communicative alternatives, I have been unceremoniously thrown out of more radio GMs’ offices than I care to recount. I would leave the building muttering to myself, “This is like trying to explain to a vegetable it really is a functional eagle.” And even when I was partially, semi-convincing, I reminded myself I was still talking to an individual presenting as a vegetable.

Exploiting the reality of the unique and powerful influence of radio comes with some responsibilities for action - before anyone is going to cash in at any substantially more rewarding and satisfying levels.

Radio, or rather, definitely/maybe, some portion of the industry, will be required to learn and apply a separate, unique and stand-alone set of fundamental communicative strategies and methodologies that are consistent with the always-presenting but not yet acknowledged “scrambled brain” scenario.

A terrifying example of how electronic media turns the minds of semi-regular people into soiled curb-slush is the rate at which drivers are killing themselves and others while they are using their cell phones. The rate of carnage has overcome that of drunk driving. And, in this culture, that’s saying a lot.

Besides the distraction of looking at a keypad surface, talking to someone on the cell phone use sucks the mind capacities of both the dominant and sub-dominant brain hemispheres – leaving very little left over to watch the road for squirrels – or to change stations. This is a behavior that requires a driver to be, at least in those minutes, temporarily engaged elsewhere and rendered stupid and/or insane. The last report I read demonstrates that, at some time, 88% of all drivers fall in to this category.

We are the same folks who have, for decades, been overwhelmed by mass, electronic media; we own car keys, weapons and – we have the vote. And still, we become temporarily stupid and insane. Can’t get around it. The situation still makes for happy days for sophisticated advertisers and for astute, political campaign managers.

Just in case readers haven’t considered it: This information has tentacles; it reaches out with serious social ramifications. The neurological impact - the influence of electronic media is so incredibly pervasive, it really is unfortunate that radio refuses to learn enough to exploit that which is already available. The buffet is still open - it never closes.

Many radio managers already understand their businesses are stagnant – mired in the goo. To be sure, some efforts are being made in attempts to make the sales process more effective – a good thing. But Sales is only half of the package. The other half consists of everything that goes out on the air. That part of the package is severely broken.

So long as radio continues to believe and behave as if it is a direct, authoritarian, conscious-accessing medium, it will be unable to compete with other electronic media - squabbling over the entrails left over, essentially, for print. The change-making distinctions are many, as are the communicative interventions to reinvigorate radio’s appeal and its effectiveness. Arguing for the status quo is a futile exercise. Better information has been provided. Radio remains deaf, dumb and blind.

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 Jan 25, 2018 8:05 am

The Gathering Of The Clan
The group was summoned – made up of an astute, experienced and credible number of radio professionals. A dozen of these folks were invited to a virtual meeting to discuss a number of challenges that radio has been experiencing for some time. (I would say “plight” but then, that’s me.)

I have to say these folks seemed candid in their comments, demonstrated sincerity and were well aware of radio’s stultifying realities. None of them were happy with, or accepting of, the status quo. Some were outright critical. From what I was reading, however, all of the participants were overwhelmed. I speculate they were overwhelmed less by the issues they were addressing, but more by the lack of useful alternate fixes available that would dynamically turn the industry around.

The last 25 years, in my view and to use an analogy, have seen radio taken from being similar to a competitive form of professional motor racing and diminished it to a series of country bumpkin, demolition derbies. Snort. Crunch. Whatever.

Yes, there remains that (relatively) impressive radio “reach” thingie. Attentive broadcasters will, however, still be required to admit that this lucky happenstance is more about the innate nature of the medium and less about any programming or marketing magic delivered by insider management or staffers.

Allow me, meanwhile, to address some of the material coming out of the meeting.
On finding new, on-air talent:
- Have somebody (who lost the bet) jump into the car and cruise smaller and medium, out-of-market stations to look for talented diamonds in the rough.
- Ascertain how much extra training and coaching these individuals will require before they can crack a microphone at “The Mighty Spaniel, 96.5 – Dog Butt’s Best Music”.
- Determine who, specifically, will be doing the coaching, directing and grooming, and with what specific materials will the new hire be indoctrinated.
- Be sure the candidate is experiencing a combination of gullibility, credulity and/or enough star-struck passion to accept paltry wages and the responsibility to become immediately competent at a bevy of other platforms. The newbie will also have to tolerate more unspecified, but to-be-determined, extra station responsibilities.
- Interview and hire people working in other sectors. Anybody who can demonstrate an outgoing personality, tell a joke and have a pulse would qualify. They would also have to be willing to play a game of “Trust or Risk” with the station management. They also will have to prepare themselves to hear, “We have decided to take another direction.”

Other comments coming out of the meeting included:

- The requirement to get away from voice-tracking as far as possible and as soon as possible.
- “Talent needs to be curious, good with people, visible in the community and connected to the business from a sales perspective, as well.” What the individual didn’t say was, “…and have access to mild amphetamines, ‘cause they won’t be getting much sleep.”
- Talent will have to be skilled enough to go on the air and deliver that lauded “one-to-one” experience. That is an example of “parrot-talk”. This is one of the most toxic, delusional premise that continues to rip out much of the credible potential of radio to which it still does have access.
- Even at stations that are running more “live & local” programming, the talent is so suppressed and gets so little airtime, they are still relegated to the ranks of the “robo-jock”.
- Edgy and dangerous stations, while impressive, will still not be tolerated, much less encouraged.
- More air checking of talent is required. Nobody was able to explain how that exercise alone would develop better performances – if they can be called that.
- Audiences have come to accept really rotten radio as “normal”.
- Stations need to better know their audiences – whatever the hell that means. Ever tried it?
- Too many commercial phusterclucks. Ya think?
- “Talent” can’t be taught. (Yes, it can.)

The majority of the comments could have been offered 10 years ago and more. There were no references to improving the effectiveness of locally produced spots. There were no recommendations to address the fundamental, language distinctions that are required to generate more effective on-air deliveries. But, thanks anyway for comin’ out.

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 » Sun Jan 28, 2018 10:24 pm

Gathering Of The Clan-Part II
As the virtual meeting of “the twelve” continued, and the participants got on a roll, more pronouncements and/or recommendations were provided. Among those were the following:

“Find creative people and turn them loose.”
As a concept, that actually sounds exciting and even slightly encouraging. So far as the odds of taking those kinds of risks, this one is right up there with chugging a cup of gasoline and then deciding to light up a smoke. The resulting event could be described as: “Guts everywhere – no glory”. And “creativity”, gets moved to the janitorial staff. But, coffee breaks become far more entertaining.

As to “live and local”: When owners find talent that recognizes and calls bull s*** when it is offered, find somebody else – anybody else. The girl at the dry cleaners down the street seems pretty snappy. Maybe she can be tricked. What the proponents of irresponsible gang-hiring for this ill-fated “live & local” exercise fail to appreciate are the components required from an effective on-air communicator.

These include a measure of creativity, to be sure. Radio already has more than enough cloth-headed parrot-people on the air to wreck an entire industry. They may be bright, but their on-air presentations do not support the proposition. A semblance of social awareness and secure appreciation of social norms would be useful.

Exceptional imagination and self-discipline are required of every competent presenter – a powerful element that comes only from on-air experience. To be more effective, management will also have to increase the airtime of the presenters. Promo-spewing robo-jocks who, like prairie dogs, stick their heads out of their holes 3 or 4 times an hour for a very brief lookee-see do nothing to increase that individual’s or the station’s appeal.

One of the participating members of the group said, “We encourage creativity from the individual. I don’t expect any talent to sound like the others. Anyone who has ever cracked a mic didn’t get into the business to read liner cards. Let the thoroughbreds run!” While a commendable position, most of the talent is pulled out of $3000.00 claiming races. The rest are brought to the track in an ambulance. The betters put their money down on the horses that have a needle sticking out of them.

Another astute participant reinforced what is obvious only to the few. He said, “Just taking away things you believe the audience will push back from will make you bland and boring.” Indeed, the multi-decade long practice of eliminating perceived “tune out factors” has resulted in audiences being offered no more than forms of lukewarm radio gruel.

While most of the people in this gathering seemed to be recognizing the value of, even the necessity for, competent talent, I pick up a sense they would rather handle a basket full of Diamondback rattlesnakes than engage with talent in any intimate or meaningful ways. Most would rather take a blowtorch to them all, and to hell with the ecology of the environment.

As far back as the mid-‘60’s and continuing on through the ‘70’s and beyond, “Top-40” stations were breaking bones to out-slam and out-slick each other. Younger demographics were enjoying it – right up until “Underground FM” radio slithered in and started eating all those unsuspecting, snarling, rock-jock bunnies.

It should be noted that during those frantic days of Top-40 mayhem, the Adult (MOR) and Adult Contemporary (A/C) stations were the ones raking in the large coin. MOR stations, while having strong audiences, struck me as a maudlin bunch. So, I only worked for A/C outfits. This was great for me because I could switch from “talkin’ dirty and rammin’ the hits” to stopping down and weaving a little more complex radio magic. Still, the priority of strong talent has disappeared.

Meanwhile, the group’s individuals are now of the Hopa-Hopa clan. Their rituals include dancing around the fire pit and stomping on cold coals. What they do not realize is the intensity of training required in the available body of broadcast communications knowledge to which both new and veteran presenters must be heavily engaged and with which they must become competent. While the group’s (expressed) fixes are unlikely to be applied with necessary skills or enthusiasm, they would still be extremely ineffective.

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 » Fri Feb 09, 2018 5:59 am

Radio’s Radioactive “I” Word
Too many of radio’s ownership and management have accepted a certain concept as one which glows in the dark, emits poisonous gasses and melts minds and eyeballs. Many fear that close proximity has already generated huge, mutated and out-of-control, carnivorous beasts bent on devouring an entire broadcast industry.

Some management individuals have returned from a startling brush with this element in a state of abject terror, heaping stories of accidental, close encounter brushes where they were hearing electronic bleeps and extremely high frequency hums – the kind that emanates from any device just before a massive, crackling explosion rips the territory to shreds, and renders it an uninhabitable, radioactive no-man’s-land.

Some still-delirious victims have even reported hearing gurgling, satanic growls and soul-piercing howls, as well. These poor devils are suffering, and are of no further use to themselves or their organizations. However, their edicts are still reluctantly followed because they do maintain their authority.

This to-be-avoided-at-all-costs element is generally understood as “Innovation”. By other names, this exceptionally foul concept is also known as: revolution, transformation, breakthrough, alteration and upheaval. Over the last decades, radio has applied none of these – not in any positive or worthy sense. Indeed, radio’s behaviours have represented the very antithesis of anything that could be remotely awarded an innovation medal.

So radioactive and toxic has Innovation been perceived that radio has taken the exact opposite tack by crippling the human, on-air participation of talent and commercial writers to the degree where they are positioned to be, essentially, useless and annoying. The numbing banalities of the greatest majority of on-air presenters, both “live” and voice tracked, contributes to the humiliation and embarrassment of the talent, and the well-earned shame of the managers.

My last two articles dealt with the sub par and benign admonitions from a dozen, otherwise, experienced and well-intentioned radio professionals. To their credit, however, they agreed on the need for more – lots more – skilled talent to be brought back to the airwaves, or generated from scratch. Unfortunately, they were unable to articulate what, specifically, constituted examples of how, specifically, veteran and/or new talents were to be educated.

Also included were the poorly thought-out recommendations for many more “live & local” talents. That tactic is no innovation – it is, rather, a strategy that guarantees expensive, industry-wide disasters. The flaunting of even more babbling from untrained, unskilled presenters is unlikely to generate more attentive listening.

The innovation the (aforementioned) members of “The Gathering of the Twelve” have missed can be described as follows:

Radio’s presenters, including those who are on-the-air and those who write for the medium, must be re-educated in the new FUNDAMENTALS and the many more nuances and subtleties of communicating to a broadcast audience.

Anything else would only constitute a shambled, disjointed return to some of the approaches of decades ago. While mine is a huge claim, it is, nevertheless, my claim. I can support it at all times and in any environment. Radio does not now have, nor is it attracting enough of those wonderful Personalities who are so talented and entertaining they could make a show out of chewing broken glass or farting through a soft, Turkish cotton towel.

It is the rank & file staffs who would be much more valuable to themselves and their stations if only they could become more efficient, influential and appealing communicators - every time they hit the air. Accomplishing this state requires intense training, practice and the ongoing application of the new principles.

Who, then, is likely to take any of this seriously? It is highly unlikely that someone who is suppressing their talent to only pop up like prairie dogs a few times an hour to prattle out station promo and pap will be stepping up anytime soon. Nor will those who cheat their advertisers and audiences by foisting the worst examples of commercial advertising messaging in unending phusterclucks be making inquiries about any forms of “innovation”.

So-called “radio people” are the ones wrecking radio. Some sophisticated sales executives, meanwhile, are becoming more keenly aware of how to make more appealing approaches to potential advertisers. Even with those improvements, AE’s are still going to the street crippled by horribly flawed advertising.

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 Feb 15, 2018 12:06 pm

Where Is Radio’s Age Of Enlightenment?
It can’t be denied: Radio surely had one hell of a run. Even in the days when radio was third in the Print/TV/Radio hierarchy, there was money to be made – lots of money. I was working for a TV/AM/FM combo that sported the finest of facilities and where my AM’er alone was raking in 5 million dollars a year - in late-‘70’s dollars!

Of course, Talent remained underpaid while management made out like barter bandits. Vehicles were handed over with multiple, gift wrapped quarts of high-quality booze, and swimming pools were installed. Only occasionally were charges brought.

A dozen AE’s remained in the office to answer their phones and only went out for copy-sparkle meetings, to sign contracts or to attend lavish dinners. Advertisers had to book 6 months to a year out.

We were still understaffed even though we had 12 on-air personalities, 5 copywriters and 3 producers. We all lined up for remotes because we needed the dough. I will admit, however, that in lieu of boosted paycheques, we enjoyed some fabulous perks – including free skiing in the Rockies – about 45 minutes from Calgary.

We were all encouraged to reach for our potentials as “personalities”. Ours was the top-rated station even though we ran an A/C format, so we could avoid the Top-40 “robo-jock” syndrome. We had far more flexibility to attempt longer bits and even chance some editorial comment. Because we were running single cuts of music and 90-second to two-minute stop-sets, we were on-the-air – a lot. This was the circumstance for years. Glory!

A new license was granted to the market and I was recruited to come over to participate in an exciting new venture as the afternoon drive guy. My instructions were to just keep doing what I had always been doing. The format was also very appealing – a 60/40 split between oldies and contemporary, adult hits. The audience ate us up – followed by the ratings, and followed by the advertisers. The only wrinkle was that we would often play 2 cuts back-to-back. We could still talk over the extro’s and intro’s. It made for another fabulous 5 year run. More Glory.

A distinction I want to make concerns the communicative principles, strategies and methodologies I have been promulgating in this space for years. I began implementing them in the early '80's. My numbers were greater than the morning show that was still the top-rated show in the market anyway. I never revealed I was breaking so many of the traditional assumptions while applying new linguistic strategies that had to do, exclusively, with relating to a broadcast audience. I was always surprised that nobody else noticed, or called me on it.

Meanwhile, a few years later, the ownership started to meddle. Previously, they had been out of town building stations across the country while our fabulous GM carried the standard. When they got back to the city, they started making arbitrary programming changes, including the latest and greatest strategy of playing long music sweeps in all day parts except mornings. This, naturally, cut into the time the talent was spending on the air. Considerations were made about paying me way too much to sit on my thumbs while the tunes played out.

To my mind, this one implementation was the beginning of the end of radio’s renaissance. Since then, other factors including the scorched earth policies of the consolidators and the onslaught of other media guaranteed that radio would not be entering any new “Age of Enlightenment”.

This situation has been the accepted status quo for so long that finding transitional fossils is proving to be more difficult every day. It can also be argued where, once, radio flourished in a lush garden of talent growing tall and where clear rivers of cash dollars flowed freely, what remains is a dry scrubland that produces extremely slim pickings.

I might also throw in the understanding that Charlie Darwin never spoke of the “survival of the strongest or the fittest”. Instead, he pointed out that the species that was the most adaptive was more likely to win the struggle. “Adaptive” along with “innovation” are not to be found in modern radio’s lexicon.

Radio, rather, is experiencing its “Age of Duh”. Communicative “Enlightenment” and “innovation” are not in the headlights or on the radar. Further, as other media are producing magnificent examples of advertising art and content, radio is providing banal babble while its so-called and occasionally alleged “theatre-of-the-mind” concept consists of foisting no more than stick figures on an underserving and sometimes gullible group of advertisers.

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 Feb 28, 2018 7:49 pm

Another Opportunity Lost
Given all the generally accepted assertions of radio’s superior reach along with the serious implications offered about the lack of efficiencies of digital advertising, radio practitioners could be forgiven when they demonstrate even a little confidence in some upcoming surge in radio’s fortunes.

So, maybe in spite of the systematic gutting of radio’s ability to produce meaningful commercial messaging, its suppression of talent that could be attracting and holding greater audience numbers and its callous treatment of advertisers by forcing the ads off to multiple spot gulags, all that is really required is: A little more patience! Is that it?

As the self-described leader of The Hopa-Hopa Clan, I am well aware of the wholly unsatisfactory results generated by the practice of “wishful thinking”. But, we continue to gather and don our funny hats. We then do our secret, mystical dances around the altar of The Big Ear. That’s when we drone our desired fantasies including the overhaul of radio’s communicative methodologies and strategies, as if they were already accomplished realities. These activities are utterly frustrating and knowingly useless.

What these jolly practices do accomplish, though, is to release our membership of any responsibilities to find and examine any contrary evidence, or to come up with more viable alternatives. This works well for the group, as what most of us really wanted was just an excuse to throw a party and trade business cards. Except for me. The leader is a non-believer – an apostate.

Radio just may be in a position to surge. Anything is possible, I guess. But it’s a little early to unfurl the flags and uncrate the pom-poms – not unless the band shows up. This is unlikely as radio’s band quit rehearsing decades ago. It hasn’t learned a new tune or perfected a new maneuver for eons. As such, radio is not in any practical position to surge. After all, the purge is not over.

For too long, the (mostly unspoken) position of radio’s own operators has been that radio’s locally-produced messaging has dropped to the lowest examples of advertising messaging available on any professional medium. Every day, radio pumps in the most banal and annoying ads that any amateur could provide. I constantly make the observation that the spots I read last week are exactly the same as the ones I read in the ‘60’s. The only difference is the placement of the decimal on the price points.

As much as I agree with them, too many pundits rave on about the need for more “creative” ads. You know, the ones that are attention getting, are generating desired emotions in the audience and the ones that are motivating more of the required results for the advertisers. Practically and unfortunately, these desires are a portion of what my Hopa-Hopa Clan celebrates, but are still secluded in the “wishful thinking” category.

Radio, because of the disgusting dearth of available talent that can produce these creative pieces of advertising art is still doomed to cranking out an overwhelming proportion of “direct response” ads in all their flat and vacuous glory.

Still, there are opportunities available – even in this stagnant pond of flotsam and jetsam. Yes, even these ads can be reconstructed and presented as more listenable and more effective. A combination of more carefully crafted copywriting and more finely tuned and more expressive vocals can turn a pig’s ear into a silk-like purse. But, it is going to take some re-education and practice to accomplish anything more powerful and thus, more effective. The same methods and approaches to writing and voicing copy also apply to on-air presentations, as well. Fathom that! Bonus!

Any “surge”, meanwhile, depends on the generation of power that is not available. It really is unfortunate that radio has not even begun to power-up. To the contrary, radio has been and continues to be in the powering down process. What is even more tragic is that radio refuses to accept that description and, instead, denies it all. As a result, radio remains unaware of another spectacular opportunity – floating on by. This state is a sick form of industry-wide schema – a group delusion. We suffer similarly in The Hopa-Hopa Clan.

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 Mar 12, 2018 5:17 am

Live Talent Makes Money
As soon as I jotted down the title of this piece, I had to admit I was flat-out lying with click bait. A search for accuracy and a regard for my own personal integrity demand I completely re-phrase that as: Live Talent can attract and hold audiences and advertisers - based only on sometimes, maybe and depends factors. Expectations of greater profits might better be thrown into the "wishful thinking" category.

Radio’s practitioners – always looking for the most expedient and cheapest ways out of the maze in which they are unquestionably trapped - have been paying mostly lip service to the “live & local” option. And, I appreciate the consideration of such a terrifying option. Ownership and management may have little clue about what “live & local” should sound like. But I suspect they do have very strong intuitions about the carnage that could ensue were they to arbitrarily implement the strategy.

From time to time, urgings are proffered from senior radio-people, who should know better, for management to go out on talent scouting parties. Whoever loses the bet gets to go on an extended road trip to case local stations out in the boonies. (Winter travel is not recommended as dispositions can get extremely ragged.)

There are other downsides that come from hitting the trail. Monitoring grotesquely shoddy broadcasting out in the hinterlands, gagging down ptomaine-inducing fast foods and revelling in all the comforts of fleabag motels featuring 40-watt light bulbs and scum covered swimming pools, might cause some to wonder how they got to this position in their careers. This is hardly conducive to masterful, effective schmoozing or the snide bullsh**ing of potential recruits - those starry-eyed rubes - with tales of Big City Radio.

Even as I am uncomfortable with bringing in a “back in the day’ reference, the unchallenged fact of contemporary radio talent – while allowing for those few wonderful exceptions - is as follows: Hardly any of the “live” talent is:
• Allowed to experiment.
• Is on the air often enough or long enough to make personal improvements to their deliveries.
• Have enough peers at the station who are impressive and motivating.
• Are paid enough to want to stay.

Back in the day, meanwhile, we had ‘live’ peers in every slot – each of us trying to work our way up through the day parts. We challenged each other and drove ourselves harder than Ronnie Hawkins worked The Hawks (The Band). Like the five Canadians and one good ol’ Mississippi Delta boy, Levon Helm, in the group, our dues were being well and truly paid. If we weren’t sweating at the end of our four-hour shifts, we were likely doggin’ it. People noticed, and the obviously guilty were accused of “phoning it in”.

Seeking out new talent is never executed as a reconnaissance-in-force. Rather, it is about accepting the shortest straw, going through the motions and retreating with a couple of names of on-air talent who just might not screw everything up. There is also an overtly accepted presumption here that modern radio managers could even recognize potential talent when they heard it. Huge assumption, that one. There are very few diamonds in their own backyards.

But let’s say that some wandering scouter does hear somebody they find even slightly appealing. Or maybe, out of desperation, they find the nice lady whipping up omelets over to the local Popeye’s franchise to be chatty and friendly. I had just such an experience at the Miami airport some years ago. But it wasn’t a viable option to take this person from the kitchen and feed her to the attack dogs by throwing her into middays.

Most of the on-air “personalities” of days of yore were self-taught and/or peer motivated. Role models, however, were everywhere and local performers were expected to emulate the best. Those that couldn’t, wouldn’t or didn’t were given their hats and shown the door.

Radio, I submit, finds itself trapped in a snow globe from which all the liquid has leaked out. The flakes, meanwhile, remain at the bottom – dried, crusted and useless. It no longer matters how hard the globe gets shaken. It is broken.

Radio’s leadership has yet to begin training the talent effectively, because they don’t yet know how. Nor are they asking around.

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 Mar 20, 2018 12:36 am

Blaming Audience Attention Spans
How is it, I sometimes wonder, that radio types slander their own audiences as people who are sporting the attention spans of gnats? Wholly satisfied, bloated termites, holed up in a sawdust bin might be slightly less alert. Any person, similarly experiencing such happy, sated circumstances, is unlikely to be paying much mind to their local radio station, either.

But that cruel and inaccurate indictment can’t be assumed for all or any member of a radio audience. Such a ridiculous assertion requires direct knowledge of, or feedback from, every person in a real-time listening circumstance. Is an extremely limited attention span on the part of an audience still, at least, a somewhat reasonable pre-supposition? Unfortunately and to our discredit, yes, that is a safe assumption.

But that is not because of a generalized acceptance of wandering attention spans of a drooling audience. Rather, it is about what radio is delivering that doesn’t even begin to earn longer periods of, or more attentive listening.

The owners and managers of radio might need to be reminded that the same people that, from time to time, and with their limited attention spans, do listen to the stations. These are the same people who can have long conversations, navigate substantial journeys and manage to spend days binge-watching movies. But, when it comes to radio listening, they are accused of being bozos distracted by shiny objects.

It is way too easy to draw some conclusions, the most important of which is: Commercial, music-radio is not supplying the content or delivering it in ways that garner longer term listening. Given the relatively rare, but still marvelous, singular, radio “personalities” who can pull their own weight, commercial radio generally operates as a crippled medium.

Meanwhile, as Cumulus and iHeart are being mowed down in traffic, there are a number of uninformed and gullible pundits who, perhaps, are being overly affected by some combination of wishful thinking, prayer, and positive mental projections or, perhaps, access to secret information garnered from jealously guarded Ouija boards.

The truly desperate are claiming that these corporate disasters would be good for radio because other business interests would take over and, like Mighty Mouse, swoop into the scene singing “Here I come to save the day!”

Indeed, some radio practitioners are doing well in some places, some of the time. Any assumptions that these outfits will be picking up properties at bargain-basement prices and, in that process, buffing many wrecked, steaming, vile turds into shining radio gems is about entertaining delusions of grandeur.

Further, I am satisfied that stations that are streaming do so in an attempt to maintain an audience who don’t have radio on their devices or radios at home. Trying to develop separate digital services only takes away the time, effort and resources necessary to drastically improve Programming – the kind that increases those audience attention spans. Indeed, radio needs to address its own knitting before going into the storm door or pest control businesses.

Meanwhile, was it really that long ago that programmers hooked into promoting “commercial free” music sweeps? Even a rube from the backwoods sporting a PhD in Agricultural Sciences, but who still don’ get into town much, would hear that and conclude the station ownerships didn’t really like commercials, and were apologizing to audiences for airing those nasty elements. Advertisers wonder the same thing. These are only surface issues – “deck chair” matters - none of which are part of “telling the story”.

If radio, generally, is to pull up and get back to altitude, adjustments will have to be made. Not superficial fiddling. CORE matters – base, fundamental, communicative approaches that radio, so far, refuses to consider or exploit. Mary has been kept, or chosen to stay, in the dark, as has Bob. There are multitudes of others.

It is the mandate of every radio operator to generate longer attention spans in their audiences. Blaming “the great unwashed” for being dullards is not only criminally irresponsible, it is wholly inaccurate.

Generating better content, while definitely on a list of priorities, is still secondary. The primary need is for radio to exploit more effective communicative processes – those elements that have less to do with what, and more to do with how, specifically.

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 writing 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 Mar 26, 2018 7:37 pm

Radio Indoctrination 101
Nobody in our culture need travel too far or dig too deep to identify multiple circumstances where indoctrinations have kicked in and are maintaining their holds on the minds of so many in our populations. I agree with the premise that religious zealotry, political ideology and corporate positioning could not be in effect without the applications of powerful and continuous programs of indoctrination.

Still as pervasive, but to a lesser degree, those who make their livings in radio have similarly been indoctrinated and, as a result, are submissively and unconsciously accepting the long-held, radio edicts that have become: Radio dogma – accepted lore that not only goes unchallenged, but is also deemed to be: unchallengeable.

Before providing a couple of examples, the rejection of which would disqualify a radio manager from considering all further, available materials, let me offer a preamble: Any belief that cannot be demonstrated with verifiable evidence can only be implanted through a program of indoctrination – self or other-directed.

I am not suggesting for a moment that these following examples were produced by anyone with a seditious agenda. They represent, rather, a number of assumptions that went unchallenged and, over time, have morphed into accepted dogma by the radio community.

Radio is a “one-to-one” medium.
Nobody in radio has ever been able to identify who that “one” is, particularly when it is always assumed that listeners, at any given time, can be counted in the thousands. Further, the number of times an audience member can identify the speaker, particularly in the delivery of commercials, is a dangerously rare occurrence. The application of the principle of the wholly fantasized “Personal Listener” leaves the speaker in a very precarious position.

Rather than radio being a “one-to-one” medium, all the evidence demonstrates that radio almost always, is: A “live, recorded and possibly unknown speaker to a definitely unknown and unspecified listener.

The first reaction by radio folks who are digging in their heels on that tradition is one of: “Yahbut, listeners are doing so - one, single person at a time! Period. Case closed.” After taking a few moments to tidy up the spittle and drool that flies past the lips of those making such admonitions, readers can consider: Everything in a person’s life is experienced as an individual, and is always a subjective experience. Everything.

The takeaway is that radio never establishes any direct connection with anybody. Okay. An exception to that could be if a presenter sez, “Lester Throckmorton! You have 10 minutes to call Dog Fart 96 to win a gallon of deluxe interior paint.”

Still, presenters – on air and in commercial copy – insist on using the Second Person “You” as-if that alleged connection has not only been established, but is real. It has not been established, and it ain’t real. It is a delusion that came about as a result of internalized radio indoctrination. And it continues.

Although it takes some understanding a lot of practice to break the habit, the easy alternative is to drop the “You” and replace it with Third Person references – of which there are hundreds. The application of this principle removes the generated and distorted understandings of an annoyed listener, and it provides the speaker with so many more communicative choice-elements.

Radio is an authoritative medium.
Not hardly. By that, I mean: Radio has no right to make demands for behaviour of anybody. Radio’s presenters, particularly in the copy of direct response ads, are constantly telling those unknown members of an audience to “Do this. Do that! Hurry! C’mon down! Don’t miss it! The list seems to have no end ion sight.

It is possible that a few audience members find being told what to do - by someone with limited credibility and no authority whatsoever - to be just a tad, shall I say, off-putting? An acceptable exception could be when an actual “live” personality hollers into the microphone, “The locusts approach! Run for your lives!”

We seem to be getting away with the practice as, I submit, listeners are some distance away and cannot physically reach through the air to throttle the livin’ bejeezus out of us. Our good fortune. It is still our responsibility to snap out of the delusions.

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 writing 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 Apr 08, 2018 7:57 am

Radio Indoctrination (cont.)
I sometimes wonder how many in radio’s ownership and management will, from time to time, spend an hour monitoring – not really listening to - their station(s), and presume something along the lines of: “Sounds pretty good to me.” Then, they will jump into their vehicles and attempt to navigate through the thickest fog of the season.

My dad was a “road man” for Armco Steel. He drove through every kind of inclement weather in every season - winter, winter, winter and the eight weeks of hard sledding in a Canadian summer – and would joke in his jocular way, “Driving through dense fog means you’ll never know what hit you.”

Similarly, radio has been driving – more like, aimlessly wandering around in an equally dense combination of industry-generated smog and fog. Radio can’t really tell where it is; it can’t say where it’s going, and it definitely doesn’t know how to get there. Further, and this interrupts the laying out and execution of any possibly worthwhile plans, radio doesn’t even know if there is a “there” there. So, allotting resources to find out where “there” might be, has already dropped off radio’s “Honey do” list.

Such is the response of individuals and organizations that have been successfully indoctrinated to accept dogma – no matter how unreasonable, unsubstantiated, arbitrary and foolish a set of induced and accepted set of beliefs might be.

As mentioned in my most recent, indoctrinations are oppressively ubiquitous in our culture. Religious organizations, political ideologies, corporate positioning and others, are all practitioners of: Brainwashing. Reason and evidence become inconsequential elements to those being influenced or those already injected and infected.

For example: The ingestion of “low fat” food products is considered by the majority of constantly hungry diners to be a marvelous strategy for losing weight. However, fat is digested and used to produce proteins. Simple carbohydrates, meanwhile, are what produce sugars, which the body converts and stores as fat. That’s how we become chunky monkeys, or worse - obese. Indoctrination by Advertising! Woo-Hoo!

The food industry’s indoctrinations have eliminated or overruled Science. Of course, anybody who has to drag their hulking carcasses off the couch without crushing their bags of Tostitos will be yelping their own twisted, delusional denials.

I mention that so I could present this: When an indoctrination program has been successfully applied – learning anything more stops! Radio has stopped inquiries, learning and applying anything about its own communicative processes. Dead stop. Appeals denied.

Moreover, radio has gone out of its way to suppress the on-air talent and copywriters who might be willing to improve their knowledge, skills and effectiveness. “Not on our dime!” sez ownership and management. “Besides”, they will also insist. “There is no need to get into that stuff, anyway!”

There is an ugly irony here: Readers who are already among the foggy-indoctrinated will find they will be automatically discounting any points I have been providing – tossed aside as ludicrous.

When I was a kid, I had a frisky, wired-haired terrier, Suzy. Somehow she found her mission in life was to chase cars and bark at the hubcaps. One evening she took after a vehicle and misjudged her position. Then, we got a cat.

I have demonstrated many times how radio is not a “one-to-one” medium, and that radio has no business making “demands for behaviours” of anyone in the audience. Yet, I have never been offered a single rational or cogent argument or piece of evidence that discounts just those two of many propositions. Instead, in response, I get the sfx of crickets.

Radio, I submit, has been overcompensating for its unwillingness to challenge its own communicative traditions – its dogma. Instead, radio’s apologists brag on about the big reach the medium still enjoys – through no internal efforts of its own - and whines about reps not being able to increase rates and close more business.

This situation generates a hell of a bind. Ownership and management refuse to have the discussion about the fundamental need for the medium to address its communication processes. But until and unless it does, commercial radio will remain stuck in the glue; flapping around while insisting no further improvements are required. Making such foolish assertions takes powerful indoctrinations to make them stick.

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

Postby pave » Wed Apr 18, 2018 8:39 pm

Radio’s Responsibility: Ignored
According to reputable research from informed, reliable sources, radio still enjoys a reach in the mid-90’s percentile. (Let the banners flap!) Radio, quite often, has been able to demonstrate an impressively healthy Return On Investment for many advertisers. (Let the bells clang!) Many advertisers are eager to include a little radio in their advertising mixes. (Let the trumpets toot!)

So, howcum all the sincere whining about radio’s “low, low, bargain basement rates” and the minimal preferences for radio as an advertisers’ medium? Well, I do have a couple of preliminary speculations about that, particularly at the local levels.

I wonder about those advertisers who insist on writing their own copy. I suggest they do so for a few reasons.
1. They may be suffering from a form of hubris where they truly believe they know what it takes to motivate their potential customers.
2. They have little evidence that would suggest the “pros” at the local station could do much better.
3. By accepting locally produced commercials, however, they might be participating in the game show, “Advertisers Dumpster Diving”.

Because of the impact of radio’s own, self-generated indoctrinations, the processes of internal learning about how the medium works and how to work the medium have been ground to an abrupt and tragic halt. Readers can consider the cruel irony when they realize: We are also in the indoctrination business!

After (supposedly) acquiring and holding a target audience, our job is to influence that audience to: Buy products and services they may not want or need at prices they may not be able to afford, and to do so on a regular basis. With that as our mandate, a professional radio-person can be challenged about their reluctance to apply the well-known and available techniques that are already and oppressively delivered by those with a religious agenda, a political ideology and a corporate position. Also include those responsible for the management of North Korea.

Even as marketing authority and good radio friend, Bob McCurdy, has also demonstrated how radio content is impacting/influencing audiences with a combination of their conscious, semi-conscious and unconscious mental processing, it is likely the information will be ignored or kicked to the curb by management – with extreme prejudice. To do otherwise requires another process of: Learning and applying new stuff! And, as an industry, we are not having any of that!

That revelation, by the way, is about audiences being influenced whether they like it or not. This is the neurological nature of every electronic medium – a terrifying concept when one considers how elections are won – and lost.

Radio has not had to be all that aware of the concepts of political influence through electronic media as the medium hasn’t been picking up much political business over the years, anyway.

I am satisfied that radio has, pretty much, maxed out on its reach. A little more would hardly be of much consequence. We could just accept that reach as our “freebie” from the universe, and move on towards elements we can control, and begin to experience mighty potentials.

Someday, we might work towards becoming actual “Influence Peddlars”. This is, after all, our mandate. This is our job. If anyone is squeamish about the priority, or the approach, they are not only in the wrong business, but participating in the subjugation of their employers – whether the bosses have that part figured out or not. (They don’t, by the way. No actions are being taken.)

Radio is famous – more like infamous – for producing shoddy, annoying, relatively ineffective commercial content. Professional ad agency-types get together for cocktails and, on occasion, start throwing out examples of clichés and other examples of radio’s advertising drivel – mockery for the cruel fun of it.

But that is what can be expected from an industry that has created its own defeatist, communicative dogma. Radio has discarded every opportunity to re-engage in any learning processes – a result of successful, self-induced indoctrinations – brainwashing. Yet, radio has no “Dear Leaders”. None are required, as all the dogma continues to be self-perpetuated.

Kool-Aid is still being pumped into the water coolers while gasses get piped through the ventilation systems. We are still under the ether – traveling companions of an ugly, vicious irony.

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 writing 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 Apr 23, 2018 5:40 am

Radio’s Shed Out Back
A glance at the back lot of almost every radio station will reveal a leaning, dilapidated, tool shed. Bleached out and rotting, with overgrown roots barring the door better than any Master Lock padlock. What was once a shiny, corrugated metal roof is now rusted and festooned with crow droppings. An annoying clattering in a windstorm is the reminder the thing still stands.

These buildings are empty, save for an extended clan of immigrant rats, the ancestors of which had jumped ship decades before, and made what, for them, was ideal, spacious housing. So far as the vermin know, they are living in Fat City.

Radio does have one contemporary use for these structures. When on-air presenters and copywriters are to be disciplined, they are taken out behind the shed where hickory switches are strenuously applied by PD’s wearing black hoods and leather harnesses. Although there was some entertainment value in the exercise, smart-mouth talents were not to be tolerated.

There are unsubstantiated rumours that, up until about 20 years ago, talent had been physically dragged into the sheds to endure full frontal lobotomies. Anesthetics were considered unnecessary, expensive luxuries, even as the managers were cranking up outmoded equipment powered by sputtering Briggs & Stratton 4-cycle lawnmower engines.

In practical fact, however, the greatest majority of stations are, indeed, sporting empty sheds. Every tool that radio possesses is within reach and already being utilized to its fullest. The problem can be demonstrated with the old adage that radio, treating every problem as a nail, only has access to a few different hammers.

Radio took it a few more steps. Radio made decisions that rendered tools and their usage unnecessary. Radio took journeymen trades-people, the apprentices and whatever skills they had developed, and jettisoned them off the top floors or threw them into freeway traffic. Others were openly humiliated or starved out.

It would be easy for an astute reader to assume I was preparing to don my mighty cape and leap up on my soapbox to demand a return to those happier, more creative days of radio “personality” lore. Such is not my position, and besides, those thousands of retro personalities are gone. They have not been stuffed into filing boxes and placed in the dark recesses of the stations’ sheds – to be yanked out and thrown back on the air – in case of emergency.

Radio, instead, has earned its being in this situation where it has brutally maimed itself, and is now unable to respond to contemporary challenges with any vigor or efficiency. I submit there is a form of a “Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy” dynamic afoot in the industry. MSBP is described as a caregiver who makes up or causes an illness or injury in their charges in order to gain sympathy and support for themselves. As such, the abuse of employees, audiences and advertisers is not only tolerated, it is justified.

I have argued that radio has systematically decimated its potentials to serve and support all three of those groups. Radio has also reinforced the practices by refusing to acknowledge the situation. Further, radio refuses to take any steps to determine, what, if any elements could be applied to correct this tragic circumstance.

Raging industry apologists continue to roar that radio’s reach is still intact, and all that is required to regain its “fair share” of advertising revenue is to get out there and “tell the story”. This position does, indeed, work well for owners and management to retain the practices of gutting their own on-air and creative elements by shifting the responsibility to the sales departments. Even as the sales side attempts to improve its attitudes and techniques, management suspiciously disregards the rest.

Very few are arguing that, with the exception of many strong and creative “personalities” around the country, the largest number making up the base of those presenting on the air or writing copy are banal and annoying.

Although unlikely on a broader level, I insist the opportunity still exists for a portion of radio’s aristocracy – the ones that want to break out - to take the first steps in redefining how radio works and how to work radio. For now, sadly, the tool sheds are still empty.

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

Postby pave » Fri Apr 27, 2018 5:33 am

Radio’s Brain Sprain

Radio, and every other electronic medium including television and all other digital devices, have one thing in common: They all bypass the portions of our brains that process informative and intellectual content. Instead, electronic media, primarily, triggers those portions of our brains that are mostly responsible for processing material at emotional levels. There are other distinctions. But, for our purposes, that is The Biggie – The Fire Starter.
Firstly, I am obliged to point out a nasty irony: As this blog is being delivered through an electronic medium, the value and hoped-for impact of presenting available stats and pure, intellectual content that I could provide, become, essentially, disconnected ramblings from the beyond. Astute readers and myself would be far better served were they to be accessing this material through hard copy – the print medium.

Not surprisingly, radio has failed completely to make this distinction. For example: The majority of “direct response” ads, particularly of the “yell & sell” variety can still be described as “little newspaper ads of-the-air”. When delivered in the traditional manner, these ads, while loaded with as much content as can be crammed into a 30-second spot, almost instantly become of little appeal and, as often, maddeningly annoying.

Our brains, in the attempt to make some sense or reason of the presented noises and content-heavy drivel by processing with the wrong brain hemisphere, get overwhelmed and confused, and go to the default positions – Tilt and Tune Out!

Over the years and with these (above) distinctions in mind, I have been promoting the position that, for radio to be more effective, a completely different and separate set of language patterns must be learned and applied by on-air presenters and by those who type the hype – the copywriters. Some sophisticated, high-end advertising agencies have been applying these linguistic distinctions for over 30 years. But they treat it as proprietary information - as I do myself - and are stridently unwilling to share.

Most politicians, for instance, are hardly aware of these distinctions. Many of their media reps, however, are more than aware. So much so, that I am willing to posit that political media handlers are willing to forego any standard-issue ethics and morals on which the culture depends, in order to produce and disseminate the vile, toxic and wholly untruthful electronic ads we have come to expect and, most importantly, believe!

These electronic ads, compared to print ads - or editorial content - are far more powerful in generating the required, predetermined emotional responses of fear, disgust and/or unsubstantiated appeal and unearned trust. (Some combination of those works best.)

Print ads, news and editorial content, on the other hand, are being accessed by that part of our brains (dominant hemisphere) that responds much better to reason, rationality and also encourages the opportunity to do some, gawd forbid, critical thinking. I further submit that political interests, like religions and corporate advertisers, want nothing to do with any challenges emanating from their target audiences. Should those folks ever start demonstrating any of that loathsome and dangerous critical thinking stuff, there may be a number of unwanted ramifications.

None of these principles have much to do with contemporary radio, of course. Our level of sophisticated and purposeful communications is still mired in the era of, “C’mon down today and make your best deal at Phat Pharley’s new and used vehicles – home of all your cream puff needs!” (This closer would have been preceded by an overwhelming amount of price/savings/rebate content.) Audience members would, absolutely, be careening to the side of the road to get that important information written down.

While severe and animated discussions can be had about how special interests are knowingly using electronic media for cynical, manipulative purposes, there is no getting away from the reality: Electronic media bypasses cogent thinking and impacts more on the emotional properties of our brain/minds.

Here, then, is a somewhat maudlin justification about radio: When audiences tune in to a radio station, they know full well they are going to be exposed to many, many commercials. By continuing to listen, they are implicitly agreeing to allow those commercials to attempt to influence them. For radio, however, the justification may be premature - and unnecessary.

Ronald T. Robinson
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Joined: Tue May 23, 2006 12:22 pm


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