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 » Tue Apr 21, 2020 11:47 am

From The Rubble And Ashes

Some day, but not particularly soon, the chaos of the Covid-19 calamity will calm and perhaps, to some degree, settle. The loss of radio revenues may, however, linger for some time – so much so that some operators may find it near impossible to hang on.

Absence, some have said, makes the heart grow fonder. While an interesting musing, my own experience has suggested that absence also tends to generate forgetfulness. And so it may be for many of the traditional, habitual users of radio advertising. Some clients have stuck with radio as much because it’s relatively inexpensive, sorta seems to work and it’s uh…. habitual.

Such may not be the case once the smoke clears. Unsophisticated but thoroughly indoctrinated advertisers may throw their lot all the way into digital while others, already scarred from their own crash in revenues, may just forego the whole advertising expense altogether. They’ll be going the “word of mouth” route. And good luck to them.

While radio has gone out of its way to decimate its own capacities to produce cogent advertising, the exclusion of many of the regular clients will only add to the miseries. Radio has always, for example, depended on automotive retailers for revenues, and on a semi-regular basis. Getting some of them back on the air may prove to be an almost insurmountable task – if for no other, other reason that it will put an end to multiples of sale reps hounding them to “get the name out there”.

Moreover, and I feel quite safe in coming to this conclusion: Radio stations will be making no efforts to create appealing and influential advertising messages that are any different from the ones with which they were bludgeoning their automotive clients before the roof came crashing in.

Radio professionals already know that, with the rarest of exceptions, the advertising for auto dealers changes only in the brand of the vehicles and the name of the dealership. Otherwise, it’s the same spots – all the time.

Meanwhile, sophisticated advertisers know that during a downturn in the economy, that’s the time to advertise – and heavily so. While all the others stick their heads in the most available orifice, the smart ones are hammering on the air. This, in order to develop and maintain a top-of-mind awareness, and to be positioned to take full advantage of such awareness when the economy does turn around. Or before.

Further, these are the times for generating and presenting advertising that is emotional in its scope – spending less time and effort on price/product advertising.

I made it a point to develop 26 automotive retailer spots in 2 flights of 13 spots each. They are radical and funny and hokey as all get out and they demand the attention of the audience. So bizarre and outrageous are they that they bring an audience to a standstill while making the production of anything similar almost impossible for other retailers – those with the imagination and courage.

Unfortunately, these spots scared the living bejesuz out of those retailers to whom they were presented, particularly those that were indoctrinated into the price/product mold – which was all of them.

The agency-produced price for each of the 2, 13-spot flights would be between 30,000-40,000 dollars. I offered them for 3,000.00 for each flight – a 90% discount! Still, no takers. No surprise. Well, maybe I was surprised.

Please note: I am inviting reader comments be sent to my email address (below).

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

Postby beddows » Thu Apr 23, 2020 2:04 pm

I now listen almost exclusively to sirius. Part of the reason is I now live 6 months a year in Mexico, but I could stream Vancouver radio if I wished. In Canada I only listen to local radio in the car & then its usually CBC or CKWX. Oddly enough some of the old pizazz can still be found on satelite radio especially on channels like deep tracks where some legends frorm the 60's like LA's Jim Ladd are still given free rein or 60's on 6 where you find characters like Cousin Brucie (NY).
Caravanas de Mexico RV Caravan co-ordinator
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Radio history: CJSF, CFBV
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Fri May 01, 2020 4:37 pm

Backing Away From Profits

Some might postulate that radio has been leading with its ass – and for too long to remember when it was otherwise. Managers have been attempting to cripple those working up and down the line while maintaining their own positions. They have been busting bones and sometimes amputating the members that, at one time, gave the business its legs and its adaptabilities.

I vividly recall from my days of being full of piss and vinegar and topped up with Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “The Law of Compensation” that, somehow, the universe would reward us with returns that were consistent with the quality and/or quantity of the services we had rendered. Whether those returns would be generated in this life was not mentioned. However, for those that are willing to take a trot down Philosophic Lane, the principle still holds true – in many cases.

Radio, meanwhile, must have skipped that class because any efforts to maintain qualities and quantities of services have all been left at the side of the road – abandoned and forgotten. For some, rendering ever-lowered quality and quantities of services is considered an improvement-of-a-kind, and worthy of accolades “way to be”’s and “atta boys”.

So pervasive have the practices of cutting high quality services and, for that matter, even mundane and banal services become that many of the managers are completely unaware how the demeaning of the industry is even taking place. After all, the gutting of radio’s prime directives has been going on for so long that many in ownership and management have no basis on which to make comparisons.

A few astute and tolerant readers have known that my main premise has been that radio must undertake a process of becoming far better, appealing and proficient communicators – on air staff and in the creative squadrons.

But now, what with the chaos of Covid-19, the chances of any radio outfit taking to heart the admonition that there will be no improvement in radio’s future prosperity until the processes have been undertaken are nonexistent. It won’t be happening. Under cover of the (obvious) restrictions brought about by the crippling effects of the carona virus and its impact on revenues, the capacities and options to engage in any learning processes cannot even be considered.

Commercial music-radio, meanwhile, continues – by way of circumstances as much as design – to pull back on the input of “live” on-air people and “living” commercial copywriters. That is to say, those copywriters that can still demonstrate a pulse.

And yet, casualties notwithstanding, the remaining radio stations will be required to improve the quality and quantities of their services. Other than those advertisers that are habitually drawn to radio – and for good reasons – the remainder of potential advertisers will have, essentially, likewise abandoned and forgotten the medium. The prognosis is ugly unless radio takes steps to up its game – and to a significant degree.

If Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay on “Compensation” is to be taken with any more serious consideration than that of long grain sticky rice, it can be noted that radio is performing in the exact opposite direction. Following the logic of the philosophy, it should come as no surprise that radio is being compensated in exactly the same proportions as to that of the rendering of its services.

As the bloated corpses of deleted on-air staff and copywriters continue to bob and flow downstream past astonished audiences and advertisers, one wonders if the carnage will ever cease, and what of any value will follow.

Please note: I am inviting reader comments be sent to my email address (below).

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

Postby pave » Fri May 08, 2020 12:22 pm

Barking Up The Wrong Pole

While I have no evidence to verify this, I suspect that in-home radio listening has increased to some degree, particularly with those that can put their hands on an actual radio – possibly dragged out from where the garden supplies are stored. I doubt this will have replaced the lost in-car listening, but I could be wrong.

What is more likely is that in-home viewing of mainstream television has increased, including FOX News which has been doing its own disservice - obfuscating its journalistic obligations by misinforming the gullible and the credulous while distorting the news for its own Trumpest agenda. And that’s one broadcasting travesty. I, like, totally digress.

Be that as it may, portable radios are hardly on the wish list of most audience members, especially those that are completely unaware of these new-fangled, technological marvels. Besides, for those who gravitate to news radio, a running tally of Covid-19 cases, deaths and reports on social-distancing contrarians does get a little exhausting.

The opportunity here is for commercial music-radio. You know, the ones that are pulling back (with now obvious good reason) even more than before the virus hit. These are the ones that had, essentially, given up on their (implied) mandate to provide high quality programming and high quality commercial content.

As there is very little meat left on the bones of most commercial music-radio stations, there is hardly any wonder that they will not be able to compete - even amongst themselves, and certainly will be unable to compete with other electronic media platforms. They will have been left standing in a sleet storm with nothing more than skin and bones – cold and totally anemic. Maybe they’ll be left with some remorse, but without any reserve resources to carry on – not with many expectations of revenue success.

What is equally tragic is that audiences will just start dropping off and won’t even be mourning the passing of so many signals. Those stations will gradually be ignored and eventually forgotten.

Of course, the onslaught of Covid-19 will get the blame for the demise of many radio stations. But, the real culprits will be those owners that had disengaged from their primary functions long before. The virus will only provide cover and plausible deniability, and will only have hastened the demise of what was inevitable for much of radio anyway.

Those stations that do make it back will do so as crippled entities. They won’t be taking any steps to make up the difference in the number of signals by improving their own organizations. Instead, they will attempt to exploit the circumstance that fewer stations are in each market - expecting to pick up any slack that was left by the demise of the other outfits. They’ll be picking through the leftovers – as if there was enough of those to make any significant difference.

It should be remembered that, even before the outbreak, radio was operating under less than ideal circumstances. Revenues were in serious jeopardy while attempts were being made to compensate for this by cutting expenses – namely on-air and copywriting talent. Syndication and voice-tracking had become more common and, often, more banal than any questionable “live & local” contributions.

Plus, and there is no kind way of putting this: Much of the talent that is “live & local” have little to offer in terms of meaningful, entertaining or influential content. Much of that talent was retained, not so much because they were effective, but because they worked cheaper. And who could blame anybody for hanging on to a gig?

Still, radio is under no obligation to make any drastic improvements in programming or commercial production. It is likely that would be the position that almost all would take and hold. (“Nobody’s gonna tell us how to run our businesses.”) What is unfortunate is that these operators would not have a sneaky inkling about what “drastic improvements” would represent or entail.

Radio has not undertaken any steps to address this issue for the better part of 30 years – notwithstanding any efforts on my part. It would seem that I have been barking up the wrong tree for all these years. Now, I seem to be barking up a barren metal pole - with a deer-crossing sign perched at the top. I certainly haven’t chased any ‘coons up there, either.

Please note: I am inviting reader comments be sent to my email address (below).

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

Postby pave » Fri May 15, 2020 2:16 am

Next Possible (Necessary) Strategy: Get A Little Crazy

When this chaos starts adjusting to a state where business can again be conducted on a somewhat rational basis, radio stations and companies will, nevertheless, be left in such perilous positions. They will be wholly unprepared to take on the new realities of audience service and commercial productivity.

While this also applies to agencies and advertisers themselves, my focus here is on radio in particular. Radio will be getting back into the game wounded and sometimes crippled - with few resources available to address the new realities. But, everybody’s gotta start somewhere.

Any idea that all radio has to do is crank up with the same-ol’-same-ol’ will be met with audience and advertiser abuse and rejection, and severe disappointment will be the unexpected consequence. The reintroduction of the same models of on-air presentations and the same banal blatherings of most of the commercial content will not be generating the same audience response and advertiser participation as before.

Advertisers and audiences will be arriving back to the medium in staggered stages. And they will be arriving in very ill humour. They may not even be aware of their change in attitudes, but they will be more cynical, suspicious and trepidatious. Having been emotionally, psychologically, intellectually, financially and, perhaps, even spiritually jerked around - in biblical proportions, audiences and advertisers will be a lot less likely to sign on to or accept any older, tired and still questionable presentation and advertising strategies.

I believe it is well past time, anyway. But, given the circumstances, it has become time – and desperately so. Time to: Get a little crazy! Now, I don’t mean ape-snake, bat-shit, call-the-cops crazy. But I do mean: Just on the other side of perceived eccentric crazy.

I also appreciate that anything beyond the obnoxious dronings and mundane gibberish that has been passing for on-air presentations and commercial content would certainly qualify as, at least, semi-weird, especially amongst the operators.

Still, that’s what it is going to take: A crash course in precise, crazy broadcast linguistics for the on-air crowd, and the same plus constant bursts of crazy creativity from the writers. Some creativity from the on-air bunch would also come in mightily handy. Anything less will not suffice.

Radio resting on its past laurels – what little of those which are remaining – will not be moving the needle. Laurel resting will not be exciting radio’s cash registers, either. Where radio was just barely tolerable? That will become a state of being less appealing, less effective and far less consequential.

Radio people must begin a process of understanding how language works in the minds of audiences and how emotional creativity has a greater impact on that audience than standard item/price ads. Advertisers, once the station reps and performers have a clearer understanding and grasp of these elements, will have to be dragged into the new realities of broadcast communications. Whether they are dragged – thrashing about and whimpering – is irrelevant. Dragged in they must be.

The combination of applying these two major concepts will be having an enormous and profound impact in the market place – an impact that will not only be extremely profitable, but one that is absolutely necessary, anyway.

Radio reminds me of a great ship at sea that has been plying the oceans at will, unencumbered by other vessels that showed up on its radar. Any other smaller boats would be ordered to take evasive action, and if they knew what was good for them, they would do just that.

On one occasion, a blip showed up on the screen through a dense fog and, by habit, was ordered to change its position. The contact responded by ordering the big ship to change its own course. This went on a number of times when the captain of the bigger boat identified himself as being in command of a massive ship-of-the-line, and demanded the contact change its course immediately.

The contact radioed back: ”We are a lighthouse!”

Radio, likewise, will have to be changing course or risk being wrecked on the jagged shoals of broadcast communications. It is indeed, time to get a little wrangy and semi-wacko out here and, in the process, to be changing course. Difficult and uncomfortable decisions will have to be made and serious actions will have to be taken. Running into a lighthouse is no viable option. Plus, failures to take action would be so terribly demeaning and, to stress the obvious – self-destructive.

Please note: I am inviting reader comments be sent to my email address (below).

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

Postby pave » Fri May 22, 2020 2:18 am

Some Clarity On “Craziness”

Even “crazy” is a term camouflaged in relativity. It also becomes a sometimes-maybe-depends phenomenon, especially for those who get tagged with the label and get all uppity and snotty-like. But, in my most recent offering, I was suggesting the radio industry endeavour to get a little crazy – as though that was a good thing. A little “crazy” certainly wouldn’t hurt. It might come in handy, and put the binders on the inevitable, as well.

Any challenges to or changes in the standard operating procedures that radio has been employing for the better part of 30 years would be experienced as craziness. The owners, operators and managers of contemporary music radio stations would take any warnings about, or encouragement to change behaviours as little more than drivel from those other, other wacko-wings of the industry.

Yet, even many of the more staid pundits in the business have come to accept a new set of realities coming for radio in the near future. In so many words, they seem to be implying that the days of the gullible leading the credulous are closing out and shutting down – that the same ploys and dodges may no longer suffice.

Radio’s lowest common denominators of banal on-air presentations and anemic commercial production may not be successfully sustained when the medium begins its attempts at a comeback. Some argue it has bottomed out already, and only the responses from dissatisfied audiences and disgruntled advertisers remain to verify and reinforce the situation.

The powers that be will, of course, attempt to ply or scam their markets with the same tawdry efforts as before. After all, they are ill equipped to provide anything else, never mind anything more or better.

The nasty fact is that so many radio practitioners have been trying to accomplish more – with less, and for years. Less quality and quantity from the presenters – those that remain – and far less appealing and, consequently, far less effective product from the commercial departments is what is in the immediate future. And this is what they propose to bring back to their markets when the Covid-19 dust finally settles?

Meanwhile, unless some ownership and management have been attending to these singular blogs, they would be completely oblivious to the alternative approaches to radio communications that have been available for decades. Applying the techniques, principles and methodologies that make up these alternatives would, however, require that decisions be made along with the investment to put these elements into practice.

This, unfortunately, is even more unlikely as radio finds itself in a situation where revenues have been so substantially depleted and the idea of making any further investments into service improvement would be an abhorrent idea – easily justified as unachievable - and quickly tossed aside.

However, for there to be any improvement in the quality of radio’s services, just such investments will have to be made. Otherwise, the projected results will be horribly disappointing. How could they be otherwise?

Another reality is about how corporate radio executives will be put in positions where they will be unable to maintain their stations while operating with such untenable losses to the bottom line. There is, to be sure, little else left to cut or prune. Doing so again will only diminish the product even further.

Audiences and advertisers will have no compelling reasons to continue tolerating such unsatisfactory efforts on the part of the stations. Stations, I repeat, will have no default positions to execute. They will be left high and dry while they re-approach their clients and audiences with nothing more than the same old, tattered, empty sack.

Radio has failed utterly in telling its “story” – the one where radio still enjoys a wonderful reach and where, from time-to-time, some advertisers prosper from using the medium. It’s not as if radio has not had the time or opportunities to litter the market with the messages of its own efficacies.

This is doubly unfortunate as radio still does have a significant impact on its audiences – not because they are skilled at delivering the messaging but because of the innate, neurological power of the medium. Even with this substantial leg up, radio declines to learn of this element and exploit it.

So, one could wonder: What part and whose part of all this is “crazy”?

Please note: I am inviting reader comments be sent to my email address (below).

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

Postby pave » Fri May 29, 2020 1:11 am

Respect For The Language

I have invested my efforts here on this blog promoting the idea that we (radio) are required to make significant improvements in the use of our language patterns – both in on-air presentations and in commercial production.

While I have only superficially addressed the concept that, as broadcasters, we have generally, but pervasively, completely overlooked the power - and I don’t use the term loosely – of the language. We hardly demonstrate an appreciation for or understanding of the fantastic influence that the words we project actually have.

The majority of our on-air presentations and commercial messaging are so banal, maudlin and without nuance, it’s like we are grade-six hallway monitors communicating to our grade school peers. If anybody wants to experience the lowest common denominators of the language we can produce, all they need do is listen to contemporary music-radio.

All this is being foisted through a mass communication broadcast medium! It really is quite extraordinary. Now, I am aware that the standard insider justification for this is that audiences are made up of, primarily, uneducated, cloth-headed rubes that couldn’t appreciate an adverb or an adjective if they bit them on the arse.

This is another grave and unsophisticated error that has been accepted by the industry as gospel. “The great unwashed”, it has been touted, “will have no appreciation for linguistic nuances.”

Research has consistently demonstrated, however, that listeners will pay attention and respond to language that they will not necessarily be able to replicate. They may not be inclined to say it themselves, but they will understand it and they do respond to it.

Although they may not appreciate it, so many on-air presenters come off sounding like simpletons – uninformed boors that lucked out on a job of talking on the radio. Some may be otherwise adroit and alert, right up until they hit the mic. That’s the moment they turn into linguistic droolers-of-gibberish.

This incredible lack of respect for the language on the part of broadcasters has only added to the frustration I have been experiencing, as my materials go well beyond the parameters of standard-issue on-air verbalizations. Indeed, the principles, techniques and methodologies I have been promoting go zooming past any accepted appreciation for English being used as a (potentially) powerful tool of communication. They represent the next step up, and entail the next level of communications that must be explored and exploited for there to be any meaningful improvement in the delivery of our radio communications.

In a post-pandemic world, it is incumbent on radio operators to up their games – and significantly so. As some radio companies start leaning towards giving up the ghost and others keep generating even more cost cutting strategies in order to keep their heads above water, only some will be in a position to re-address their communicative models in order to compete and attract more audience and advertisers.

This is, of course, only a fantasy I carry around as a personal stimulus to keep up the good fight, Practically, however, the chances of a radio organization catching on or at least considering the matter as anything more than a terse and passing exercise are slim, if not grim.

What is more likely is that radio will be applying their energies to make attempts at cleaning up the mess while re-instituting the same old presentation and advertising strategies as before. These will be no more than make-work exercises. But, everybody will seem to be quite busy.

Radio people have, I submit, some responsibilities. They include:
• A responsibility to their employers – as unappreciative as they might be – to continuously improve their personal skills as broadcast communicators.
• A responsibility to their audiences to continuously make of the listeners’ experience a more satisfying and more appealing one.
• A responsibility to their advertisers – to make the effort necessary to be better influencers and agents-of-change. And,
• A responsibility to themselves – to explore and exploit the multiple language tools to which they do already have or could have access along with the tremendous privilege of having communicative opportunities to a significant number of their fellow citizens.

Certainly, the reluctance and refusals of radio organizations to support these staff responsibilities makes up another and completely separate set of indictments.

Such a clean slate – an opportunity, perhaps, for a do-over - might be the place to reinvigorate an appreciation of the English language as an extraordinarily unexplored and particularly useful element of what has been a sadly lacking radio experience. The language, after all, is what we use – what we do.

Please note: I am inviting reader comments be sent to my email address (below).

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

Postby pave » Fri Jun 05, 2020 3:27 am

Radio Is Self-Medicating

More syndication. More voice-tracking. Fewer local personalities. As famed comedian, Jon Lovitz, used to say, “Yeah. That’s the ticket!” Since radio has run out of feet in which to shoot itself, the next best things to go for now are – the kneecaps.

Further, radio has been cranked up on so many prescription meds these last decades that it fails to even notice those oddly self-destructive and sometimes suicidal thoughts. It’s as if radio’s management and ownership gangs get together from time to time for group therapy with the first question of a meeting being: “What other ways are there where we can screw the medium and ourselves up?”

As it turns out, rather than farting through silk, there are a number of ways that would exacerbate radio soiling its own nests, its own sheets – and its own pants. One of them is in increasing the practice of sabotaging the commercial production process. It has already, and often, demonstrated impressive skills in this area.

I have previously speculated that radio is going to have some difficulty in returning to a semblance of order – at least an older order - once the main crux of the Covid-19 episode subsides. (This may also take longer than some folks are expecting.)

Although only a few of the more astute advertisers may demand it, the need for the generation of more appealing and more effective radio commercials will be revealed in the harsher reality of radio’s new opportunities and responsibilities. The standard-issue bevy of jolting, price/product spots aren’t going to cut it – not like they (didn’t really) used to.

This situation leaves radio in one heck of a bind. They simply don’t know how to produce these materials, and they certainly don’t have the talented folks available that are in a position to generate them – not on a regular basis. There will be a modicum of disappointment demonstrated around the stations when the new AE’s are unable to come up with exemplary or even utilitarian copy. The advertisers never were suited or educated well enough to come up with their own whiz-bang scripts.

But, not much of this is likely to come into the awareness of the owners and management – what with the side affects of the meds an’ everything. Besides, the specters of withdrawal can develop an anxiety for a long and painful experience.

There was a time when I seemed to be a lone voice in the (melting) tundra howling about these matters when, to my extreme surprise, other knowledgeable pundits were subscribing to similar activities. “More appealing and emotional advertising”, they have begun intoning. But, they, too, found they were gobbing into the wind. The flotsam all comes splashing back with a few extra, added ingredients, creating a terrific mess – and a distinctly foul odour. They had better get used to it.

Management is not positioned to be investing a single farthing into the development of a highly skilled group of writers or a cadre of on-air presenters – not so long as this crowd is listed in the “expense” category. That, plus the fact that nobody wants to deal with the eccentricities of any creative bunch, especially since they have already been sufficiently manacled and cowed into a whimpering and whiny submission.

The artsy aficionados have not, like sleeping dogs, been left to lie. They are being put down like the rabid curs they are. So, none of them are producing puppies, either.

There is, I repeat, little respect for the language in the commercial, music-radio business. This is because the language has also, likewise and essentially, been put to sleep. Further, stilted, rapid and monotone deliveries have become the sludge-standard for much of the on-air efforts. The majority of those are hardly representing succulent, juicy, ear-bending, illuminating or emotion-driving examples of the elocutionary arts.

Now, it’s true that a number of us are steadfastly clinging to hopes the industry will be having an “a-ha” moment at some time – better earlier than later. However, the evidence does not support the fantasy. The language, after all, has been all we’ve ever had. That is, unless there are still those who believe we can make it – solely on the music. And there are many who believe exactly that.

And yet, an enlightenment-of-a-kind is still possible. More importantly, it is essential to the redevelopment of radio as a popular and powerful entertainment and advertising medium. The alternative is that we will be witnessing the long, lingering demise of a once powerful and dynamic means of communication. We really do gotta learn to talk more gooder for the radio daze ahead… “comin’ up next”.

Please note: I am inviting reader comments be sent to my email address (below).

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

Postby pave » Sun Jun 14, 2020 7:46 am

It’s Still About The Language
In the weird and twisted world of linguistics, there are a couple of aspects that could use further examinations and explanations. As listeners, we receive the surface structures of the language. That is: Whatever is said on the radio.

Then there are the deep structures of the language, and it is with these that listeners can get downright wonky. That is because the listener is required to fill in the gaps – complete the thoughts - of whatever was and wasn’t spoken. Fortunately, we do this intuitively and unconsciously. And we also have to take into account the deletions, distortions and generalizations that are and aren’t supplied or implied in the surface structures.

Another, perhaps simpler way of putting the concept could be: There is what we hear, and there is what we think or process about what we hear.

Now, in this space I have criticized much of what gets said on the radio as being mostly of a base and simplistic nature. Radio language has, after all, been dummied down to an embarrassing degree – so much so that the closest next step would be primal grunts emanating from too many presenters. Much of the talent is that close to generating unintentional parodies of the Dick and Jane series of riveting, primary reading materials from our childhoods.

Meanwhile, where the troubles really stagger into tricky territory is when the speaker’s language is so base and simplistic that the processes of discerning deep structure on the part of the audience are hardly engaged. The surface structure is, too often, so unappealing as to render audience members to become indifferent to what is being said. Plus, the descriptive aspects of the language has been almost entirely eliminated. It seems there has been placed on the control room wall a sign that reads: “Adjectives und Adverbs sind Verboten.”

Engaging a radio audience has a great deal more obligations beyond the standard-issue mutterings of so much of the talent. Filling in the spaces between music sweeps and phusterclucks of spots with vanilla blatherings hardly constitute a satisfying listening experience for audiences.

Engaging the need for audiences to engage their capacities to figure out deep structures is actually a necessary element for those audiences to stay involved. Likewise for the bland mutterings of commercial copy. We treat our communications like they were strictly for dunderheads or for those for whom English is a third language. “See Dick. See Jane. See Spot. Oh, oh. Down, Spot. Run Jane. Run.” Interesting it is that even those extremely basic quotes generate a deep structure exercise for readers, is it not?

I know I bitch and whine about all the lost opportunities to do some serious c’munnicatin’ on the radio, but that should come as no surprise, especially to regular, astute readers. Language, it could be argued, is the only ball we carry. Yet, we still refuse to run with it. We fumble with it, rather like a hot potato.

Yes, it would take an educational process to take place on the part of presenters and writers. But the benefits would be spectacular – resulting in more audience engagement and greater advertiser participation and, I would add, greater satisfaction for the talent. The last time I was paying any attention, these elements were necessary for radio to crawl out of the morass into which it has oozed itself.

We have certainly manacled ourselves to steel gates of our own construct. The only thing stopping us from a release is our own reluctance to free ourselves. That, and the delusional position that the way radio is being presented is, actually, quite satisfactory. That there will be expenses is a given. But the alternative is: Stay the same and witness more of the demise of what was, once, a terrific and exciting medium.

I would eagerly dissuade any young person at this time from getting involved in radio as a career. The work can be tedious and tiresome. The hours can be questionable. The money certainly sucks, and the chances for legitimate advancement are almost nonexistent. And then, there is always the chance that a person could be bounced out the door on no more than a management whim. A demand from above to cut expenses even further would suffice as reasonable cause. It always has. Plus, since management has usurped its responsibilities in these matters, a protective bargaining unit might be called for.

Further, and I repeat: The most dangerous position management and ownership can maintain is that radio is currently being delivered in acceptable and useful manners. “As it is and how it has been is how it shall remain.” Danger, Will Robinson.

Please note: I am inviting reader comments be sent to my email address (below).

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

Postby pave » Sat Jun 20, 2020 8:13 am

Radio’s Dire Circumstance
Seems to me, the main elements missing from the makeup of music-radio’s owners and management are: Imagination and courage. Other than that, they are all, otherwise, fairly well equipped to go boldly into a solid and enthusiastic future.

Reticence and trepidation abounds in this industry. Ownership and management, although they would argue to the contrary, are literally frozen in their tracks when it comes to the consideration of the adjustments necessary to not only save the industry but to pave the way for the absolutely needed improvements.

William Shakespeare put the matter quite succinctly when he had Lucio opine: “Our doubts are traitors. And make us lose the good we oft might win. By fearing to attempt.” (Ol’ Will did have a way with words, did he not?)

Nor are these trivial matters. As I have interminably droned on in this space: Language is the only tool we have that is internally controlled and internally generated by which we can influence audiences with the information and entertainment elements of our broadcasts. Language is also the only tool we have with which we can potentially influence audiences on behalf of our advertisers.

Given that, one could surmise the really big brains of the business would be falling all over themselves in the process of making radical adjustments to these factors. But, alas, no. These components are arbitrarily and universally ignored. Some would go so far as to trounce the concept outright as being only the mere disjointed babblings of the severely disgruntled.

Once again, I defer to The Bard: “In friendship, as in love, we are often happier through our ignorance than our knowledge.” That this condition is pervasive hardly salves any painful hurts that come about because of reluctance to pay attention to the cuts, scrapes, infections and gaping, sucking chest wounds that our inactivity to theses issues produces.

In the greater scope of electronic media, radio is entered into The Kentucky Derby, a horse race in which only the very best can expect to compete. Unfortunately, radio’s nag has been surreptitiously smuggled into the backstretch in an ambulance. Is it any wonder that when radio’s plug shows up on the tote board, it goes off as a 150-1 long shot – even in the pouring rain, on a potholed track with the lights shut off? This would be a situation where only the deluded and desperate betters motivated by a spectacular fantasy would be putting their money down.

The irony, of course, is that none of this scenario is necessary or pre-ordained. Radio, even now, has every opportunity to realize that, indeed, language is all we have and so it might be prudent to make some inquiries as to how, specifically, steps can be taken to employ the strategies and methodologies that encapsulate extraordinary improvements in the delivery of the language.

Radio is in desperate need of language instruction. But, if it is unwilling to accept this as an accurate description of the situation, it is also in a position where it can deny such a need, never mind asking for help.

To paraphrase Shakespeare: “Ignorance is bliss.” But, for radio’s ownership and management, I posit this is hardly the case. I believe the leadership is experiencing a gnawing ache in that they actually do know they have been ignoring their responsibilities and, in the process, are fervently hoping the other shoe doesn’t drop or that a clanging alarm doesn’t get triggered.

Such an event would auger in times of angst, confusion and withering discontent. Unpleasant experiences these would be, to be sure. And while there are no assurances that such calamitous events are in the near future, the threat alone is enough to cause some nights of shaky sleep patterns.

And, again, the irony is that none of this was foretold in stone. Nor is it necessary. But. Likely, it will be a part of the experience.

Please note: I am inviting reader comments be sent to my email address (below).

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

Postby pave » Mon Jul 06, 2020 1:17 pm

Radio Is Giving Us Dog Lips
Parts of radio have been making noises about getting their act together in order to come out of the Covid-19 fiasco bigger & better & more entertaining and effective than ever before. Call me cynical, but I have already concluded this is mostly bluster and bravado. In other words: Dog Lips – without the snarls.

Firstly, radio has been locked into its minimalist model for so long, it hardly has a clue about how, specifically, to take any other tack, especially one that requires more education, effort, time and expense to pull it off. Instead, radio’s hulls have only been picking up even more barnacles, drastically inhibiting its forward movement. There are some examples of a few outfits that have thrown out the stern anchor and are dragging that along, as well.

Now, if the exercise included more voice-tracking and programming shipped in from other locales, they’re all for it. But, it doesn’t and it won’t entail any of that.

Some of the outfits are making these somewhat grandiose claims, but they still fall short of any mea culpas along the way. Those would become indictable offenses right up there with confessions of criminal behaviours. And there is no doubt these characters have been committing crimes against the audiences and the advertisers for a very long stretch.

Most of them, because of the enormous shortfalls in revenue everyone is experiencing, can legitimately don their whining-smocks and profess their inabilities for responding to the already-desperate, pressing need for radio to address what were serious presenting issues – even before the ongoing corona virus episode.

Radio has been able maintain its position as the heartily fought for Number 5 medium-of-choice by advertisers, and has always been able to carry on by picking up the dregs and whatever slops are spilled off the advertisers’ tables. This has become an acceptable position – so long as the expense side of the ledger is constantly being adjusted. As my buddy, Herschel, puts it. “It’s still a living.”

The opportunities are being ignored and otherwise lost by radio in general and commercial music radio in particular. Although, I am willing to concede there might be a modicum of sincerity out here about responding to the current crisis by making arrangements to enhance their on-air acts, I am sorely unconvinced.

Fact is, I have yet to be made aware of any steps being taken by anybody in radio that would actually generate a higher-quality broadcast product. To the contrary, what I am hearing are the implementations of the same strategies that were being foisted on audiences and advertisers before the crisis presented itself.

The further fact, and I realize I have been pounding this point for, like forever, is that radio people have no appreciation for or the knowledge of what to do in order to get this tub up on plane again.

Goofy, ill-planned and poorly implemented formatics aside, radio is singularly unequipped to take advantage of any newer strategies and/or methodologies that have been designed to directly increase the viability and effectiveness of the medium. These modifications are for both on-air and commercial-writing aspects of the business.

All the specifics being offered might as well be delivered in the vaunted and thoroughly descriptive Swahili language – for all the impact and influence they are having.

What we get, instead, are dog lips.

Please note: I am inviting reader comments be sent to my email address (below).

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

Postby pave » Fri Jul 17, 2020 1:59 pm

Radio’s Unknown History

It has been said, often and in so many ways, that those organizations that are unaware of the errors of their own histories are more likely to repeat them. In the last 30 years, generations of radio’s management, ownership and the talent base have accepted and are dealing with a minimalist form of radio.

The systematic suppression of talent, the decline of commercial creative departments and the dependence on significant music sweeps have become the benchmarks of the industry. And this, I repeat, has been the case for over 30 years!

There are only a few in the business that have any solid experience or even recall of what was happening in radio before that. This information (history) becomes of little or no consequence, especially to those who have come into the business in the last 20-25 years, or so.

Any discussions of exceptional talents plying their trade (“live & local”) over all day-parts while performing 12-16 minutes an hour, along with whole creative departments toiling over their IBM Selectrics – typing the hype and attempting creative approaches to commercial productions – fall on deaf and disinterested ears, particularly among contemporary participants.

So far as most current employees and management are concerned: Radio is the way it is because that’s the way it has always been. Examples of it being any other way are, essentially, missing from their incomplete memory banks. The concept of the Super Jock rolling out of the control room exhausted and sweating pools after a 4-hour shift are met with incredulity - and indifference.

But such was the case. Radio personalities acquired respect and admiration from their peers and, in some cases, idolatry among the audiences. They were, indeed, stars. Now, this didn’t apply to every jock or in all circumstances, but there were enough of them on the air to make of the medium a spectacularly dynamic and exciting enterprise. This was also the situation in a number of medium markets, as well. I do, meanwhile, chide myself for taking a ride on Peabody’s Way Back Machine, but I also have a rationale for the indulgence.

Further, none of the personalities were putting into play but a few of the principles, strategies and methodologies that I have been touting over the years. They were doing it from acquired skills, attitudes and the excitement of their personal deliveries.

Today, most if not all of those dynamics are missing. Is it any wonder that the vast majority of the talent is demonstrating deliveries that are banal, boring and flatter than piss on a plate? And it’s not as a result of the contemporary crop of personalities not being as clever or talented as their forbearers, they have simply been eliminated from the landscape – turned from wild stallions stomping through open pastures to subdued and drugged plugs hooked up to hay wagons.

And yet, the potential to return radio to a somewhat different, more sophisticated, appealing and more effective form of the medium still exists. Yes, it means a program of training and re-education is in order. In fact, such a program has become a necessity. This is so because radio may not realize: It is at the precipice – on the brink of stepping off an abyss from which there is no return.

To be sure, AE’s will have cans tied to their derrieres and they will be sent out and into the landscape to grind and scrounge whatever business they can muster. Once again, they may be required to drop their pants on the pricing and they will be hunkered down with their clients sporting a supply of table napkins - in order to expedite spectacular examples of the copywriters’ craft.

But I fear these are delaying tactics at best. Radio, despite its highly acclaimed reach potentials is still number 5 on the list of desirable advertising media. The onslaught of digital media has sufficed as a palatable excuse for radio’s general demise, but in the harsher glare of a probe and an examination, this too is a maudlin excuse.

It is incumbent on radio to stop re-experiencing its history and to start creating a future for its own damn se'f.

Please note: I am inviting reader comments be sent to my email address (below).

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

Postby pave » Fri Jul 24, 2020 7:54 am

Blasé And Mundane Can’t Win Forever

For the better part of a decade (that’s right, friends and neigbours – ten whole years) the title of this blog has been “What’s It Going To Take?” It started out as a discussion about how, specifically, radio could make inroads into its models-of-communication in order to develop its reach and effectiveness as an info/entertainment and advertising medium.

Shocked I was when the industry, demonstrating a herd mentality, simultaneously and utterly ignored the principles, techniques and methodologies provided in this space. Meanwhile, nobody ever mounted a counter-argument to these elements, either – not one that was reasonable or cogent in any meaningful way.

Instead, radio made then, and continues to make efforts to find out what didn’t work – and to do those harder! Although not an uncommon phenomenon, it still strikes me as weirdly strange that an entire industry would work against its own best interests, and to cop to the lowest of common denominators of on-air and commercial presentations in its rush to render itself as a meaningless afterthought in the mix of electronic media.

Further, there are few arguments that, while the industry continues to cripple itself on an ongoing basis, it does so by taking the positions they have taken are not only acceptable and normal, they are reasonable. This, to me, is a blow-minder of staggering proportions.

Commercial music-radio has become so blasé and mundane that the fact the industry still enjoys a fairly impressive reach is startling and perplexing at least. That audiences can still tolerate listening to the radio – to the degree they still do – becomes a very confusing circumstance.

To be sure, much of radio has become little more than background noise; hours tuned have dropped substantially and foreground listening has become no more than a programmer’s unfulfilled wet dream.

A little history: When I first was introduced to the materials I have been promulgating lo, these many years, I had been talkin’ dirty an’ playin’ the hits for about 15 years – at the time doing afternoon drive for 1060 CFCN in Calgary. I had eked out my first #1 rating and figured I had the market – and the world - by the saddlebag.

A friend of mine who just happened to be a clinical pshrink, said, “You’re in communications. I have a body of information you might find, at least intriguing if not useful.” I needed a permission slip from him to order the materials as the psychiatric community had a lawsuit running against the authors in order to keep the materials out of the public domain.

Suffice to say, I got the textbooks, packaged in plain, brown, butchers’ wrap and I proceeded to glean what I could. Suffice it also to say: That’s when the world reversed the spin on its axis and my education began - all over again.

I was introduced to Transformational Grammar, The Hypnotic Patterns of Milton H. Ericson M.D. whose work was collated into The Milton Model, the writings of Timothy Leary and Noam Chomsky, the work of Fritz Perls, the father of Gestalt therapy along with the field of Neuro Linguistics as developed by Drs. Richard Bandler and John Grinder.

While my mind was turning into so much mush, I was startled to learn that language delivered through the radio impacts on human beings so powerfully because the primary access points of a broadcast communication are: At the unconscious level and, primarily, as a right-brain exercise. This, to me, is the most significant element of all the materials I have been promoting over the years. This makes it even more important to learn and start applying the linguistic principles about which I have been ceaselessly droning on.

The important distinctions about the phenomena are that standard-issue, grammatical rules for writing and speaking get (more or less) jettisoned, and are to be replaced by a whole new and different set of communicative precepts.

These distinctions leave radio audiences wide open to a more effective set of methodologies - approaches. The irony, of course, is that radio absolutely refuses to consider, examine or exploit these potentials.

Blasé and Mundane are still the orders-of-the-day. There has been no forward movement in the field. And a damn shame it is, too. Meanwhile, as the industry is completely uninformed on these matters, there will be no ruing of the days, either.

Please note: I am inviting readers’ comments to be sent to my email address (below).

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

Postby pave » Sun Aug 02, 2020 11:40 am

Radio Has Actual Power: Ignore That Too

Radio’s operators do keep on whining and sniveling about radio’s reach. It has been touted to be in the mid to high 90’s percentile. It’s probably the case. And they are so righteously indignant that advertisers don’t consider this spectacular revelation; never mind process and act upon it.

Meanwhile, for anyone that already realizes how tough a sell the “reach” factor really is, the following will only hasten even more frustration on the part of AE’s and programmers alike.

This has to do with the neurological access of radio, particularly since radio is unencumbered by the added complexities of adding visuals to the platform. The lack of expenses of providing visuals is an unintended but still fabulously desirable component. Audio only. Fantastic!

While I am extremely appreciative of the attention of regular, astute and indulgent readers, from time to time I am obliged to drag out this older chestnut and put it back on display. The regulars already know that my main contentions deal with the languaging patterns that are available to on-air presenters and ad copywriters.

The neurological processing of a radio signal, however, stands as the basis of the other communicative aspects. Without this primary element of radio’s access to an audience, the linguistic properties and methodologies stressed in this space could be construed as somewhat nebulous and even questionable. Fortunately, such is not the case.

Because radio is primarily accessed as a sub-dominant hemisphere brain activity (right brain), all the other linguistic properties take on an even greater impact and significance.

Now, it will come as no startling surprise to the aficionados that radio, to my knowledge, has had no awareness whatsoever of this extremely important component of a radio broadcast. I have certainly never heard it discussed at any level through all the ranks. Oh, there might have been some whispered chats in the hallways of a few stations, but when the heat shows up, the participants scurry away – thankful and relieved for not getting busted.

Electronic radio signals, by their very nature, impact, primarily, on a listener’s sub-dominant (right brain) hemisphere. As a result, the listener has no choice other than to filter the words and sounds through that part of their brain that essentially deals with the emotional and pattern-completing aspects of their thinking.

Logic and reasoning are, more or less, entirely bypassed! This does not bode well for the pure content-laden presentations and commercial messaging that is the bread and butter of most radio communications. The music, however, is accessed powerfully and beautifully.

To a degree, this explanation might also serve as a demonstration of why right-wing talk shows and religious broadcasts do so well on the radio. Reason and logic are discarded for bamboozling with bombast and bulls*** while liberal talk shows are attempting to make rational arguments and are presenting cogent premises – laudable efforts but huge mistakes nevertheless.

The printed page is the place for rational discourse. And I don’t mean online or any other computer or device-presented materials. They, too, are electronic delivery platforms and, as such, are applying the same neurological processes as does radio.

No. I mean the printed page – hard copy. That is accessed by a reader’s dominant hemisphere (left brain) and is where rational thought can be conducted, where retention is greater and where it’s more difficult to pull the wool over the eyes of unsuspecting rubes.

The irony, for me, in all this lies in the knowledge that we in radio are missing spectacular opportunities to be far more appealing and effective in our communicative efforts. A further irony is in that I am delivering this material through an electronic medium – one that is not particularly well suited to processing content-driven materials. Still, we gots to run with what we have and with what we brung.

Please note: I am inviting reader comments be sent to my email address (below).

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

Postby pave » Sat Aug 08, 2020 8:08 am

Breaking News: Radio Ignores All The Evidence

There was a time when I was withholding some of the information about the techniques and methodologies that I called: “Advanced Communications For Broadcast Professionals.“ The premise was about avoiding giving everything away, and having nothing left to sell.

So excited was I about these materials having the power to literally transform radio that I wanted to be in a position to have a good portion left over to take to the marketplace - offering hitherto unpublished, whiz-bang information and principles.

However, as astute, regular and tolerant readers are already aware, the invitation to participate was and has never been accepted by radio’s ownership and management. As it turns out, I have been shouting into a bitterly cold and cruel wind, and I have been wearing my sandwich board and plying my pencils tucked away in an alley between abandoned, dilapidated warehouses.

And yet, my enthusiasm for the legitimacy and potentials of the materials remains unwavering. I must admit, meanwhile, that I do sometimes wonder if even perseverance has some limitations. I got over that and am determined to soldier on. The struggle shall continue. “Solidarnosc!”

My real trepidations lie in another area, that being: As stations continue gutting the talent and copywriting bases from their rosters, there will be fewer presenters left to instruct. Voice tracking has, essentially, rendered the presenters, for the most part, as anemic, mundane and without many appealing attributes. The talent, through no particular fault of its own, has been mailing it in for some decades.

Voice tracking has encouraged…no… has mandated the least of the necessary elements to be included in any broadcast presentation. The opportunities for talent to render some content and process communication nuances have been chopped to the bare bones. And, to their discredit and my chagrin, management is sticking with these very premises. They don’t spend any time in the penalty box and they are not encouraged to feel shame.

As Krushy The Terror Klown, holed up in the White House to our south, has so adroitly stated, “It is what it is.” When, as ugly as it is, the status quo is held up as legitimate and beneficial, we, the peons, are left up to our necks thrashing about in serious gack.

Further, a newer term has entered the lexicon. “Plantation Capitalism”. It really is a terrific descriptive for big business and big government’s abuse of the workforce while spouting reams of beliefs and values that seem, on the surface, to be consistent with the well being of said workforce.

And yet, fueled mostly by a combination of fear of the marketplace, greed and incompetence, radio organizations are continuously wrecking its own capacities to respond to the opportunities that are being presented in the business.

Enter the Communication Guru. No gongs. No banners. No fanfares. No welcoming committees or a bevy of pretty girls festooned with pom-poms. No owners pressing cheques into my palms or offering heartfelt accolades. Not even a free lunch. It is to lament.

Yet, the struggle must continue. Not only because the benefits of learning and applying the techniques I have been promoting would be of significant advantage to the industry, but also because the alternative – keeping on doing what they have been doing – will, ultimately, be calamitous.

Radio has been shooting itself in the foot for so long that it doesn’t even realize it has been crawling around on hands and knees for all these years. The situation has become normal.

The justifications for radio to cripple itself are many and all are well known. The self-sabotage is equally well known and is deemed to be a necessary evil and quite acceptable.

The irony, of course, is that none of this was absolutely required.

Please note: I am inviting reader comments be sent to my email address (below).

Ronald T. Robinson
info@voicetalentguy.com
pave
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