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Monday, December 15, 2014

(TALENT) Radio's Choke Point


I don't know how much longer contemporary radio owners are going to hang in ? what with their looking away or holding their breath until the bad people go away. Qualifying as the "bad people" are any who would, with the courage of Lassie, state that most broadcasters are running second-rate operations. Some owners are blissfully unaware they run clunkers. They have no intention of addressing or improving anything.

Where things get semi-criminal, though, would be in the behaviors of those owners who do know their organizations are, sometimes, as poor as third-rate. They still have no intention of developing them any further ? not so long as their own rice bowls are secured. This is a sad and tragic situation, particularly given that radio is continuously having its reach and relevance challenged and whittled away.

There are three main components with which every radio station has to contend on a daily basis: programming, commercial production, and sales. I won't claim so much expertise on the sales aspect of radio. Besides, there are highly competent teachers and trainers available ? if not in the building or locally, then certainly off-site. My brief comment relative to sales is as follows: Too bad the folks in my departments (programming and creative) are not in a position to deliver services and products that would help the pavement-pounding sales-folk in their endeavors. (We send them out with little more than a briefcase full of noisemakers, smoke bombs, and a rubber chicken.)

Only because of the innate woo-woo power of electronic media does radio still enjoy a "magical influence" on listeners ? in spite of our best efforts to make radio something, which it can't ever be: "newspaper-of-the-air." Evidences of that ongoing, disastrous approach are thousands of price, product, and content-only spots.

Then there is a hinted-at "unconscious conspiracy" that has been pervasive for decades, and with which both advertisers and radio stations indulge each other. I call it an unconscious conspiracy because neither party is thoroughly aware of the situation and there really is nothing sinister going on. Still, the results of this "agreement" being in play show in the destructive influence on the production of more effective radio ads.

In numerous articles, I have been stressing the need for the generation or triggering of audiences' emotions during a commercial for it (the commercial) to have any chance at a maximum impact. Fortunately, radio ? even as it is now ? still manages to maintain a fifth-rate position in the advertising world. Although not an enviable position, some folks still manage a pretty decent living from the enterprise.

With rare exceptions, radio is still being sold by the numbers ? reaches, frequencies, quarters, hours tuned, CPPs, and the like. What hardly ever enters the conversation is "the higher level of influence" that a station's commercial productions might provide. This would be represented as, "Our spots are generating phenomenal results!"

That would be a tough line of discussion to pursue with an advertiser, especially if the presenter has no idea what the distinctions are that were making the difference in audience responses. Of course, station management would have already implemented the methodologies for generating those spots that would, indeed, demonstrate much greater "levels of influence." This is fantasy. Uninformed sales-reps cannot teach their clients.

I have yet to hear any happy stomping of manly feet, clapping of hands, or delighted squeals of girlish glee from any copy and production departments. So, (I guess) the new strategies are still on the back burners. Actually, I would be slightly more accurate by suggesting the new strategies have yet to even be pulled out of the box, never mind considered or implemented. I would probably be more accurate still were I to suggest that most radio folks are completely unaware that new strategies and methodologies for the generation of more influential advertising even exist!

Meanwhile, radio folks, especially salespeople, continue making claims for the absolute requirement and necessity on the part of an audience member to experience recall of an advertiser, the product or service, and the price before they will make any buying moves. In another conversation, I reminded a friend and colleague that the unequivocally worst media from which to expect the generation of recall of content from an audience are any electronic medium. By comparison, people remember stuff they read (print-hard copy) when they were 12 years old, or even ? last week.

I do understand. At first blush, that's a terrifying consideration. But, no. Not so. There is relief, I say. Hope and relief!

Electronic media bypasses the intellectual and content memory-producing portions of our neurology and goes directly to those capacities motivated by emotionalism and... produces behavior without any conscious recall whatsoever! This is unconscious programming at its finest.

The concept of "conscious, informed buying decisions" being made as a result of exposure to electronic media advertising is, for the most part, wishful thinking on the part of media sellers. The rest of us could be feeling like manipulated goofs. Best to keep that info under wraps. Those kinds of revelations tend to generate pitchfork-and-torch responses. (In fairness, it must be noted that ? some of the time ? an offer will be made on the radio that matches someone's already-existing wants or needs and the customer is happily off to the advertiser's store. Later recall is not required as everything took place as a here/now experience.)

So, yes, the main "choke point" for radio is in the generation of more influential commercials. Plus, considering people hardly remember squat about radio/TV content, broadcasters knowing more about powerful, influential techniques and processes can be exceptionally exciting, and career-saving, information.

(12/12/2014 11:42:51 AM)
My reference to recall is only about CONTENT! And the vast majority of our spots are essentially, no more than a content-dump.

Of course, most of us remember lots and lots of the emotionally-based material heard on the radio.
I'm thinking... The Hits of A Lifetime!

I'm suggesting a re-read of the piece, Ted, before jumping to contusions.

My position stands. I already know that radio-types have difficulty confronting it.
Nobody wants to re-contruct the whole creative department or the sales dogma that has been pervasive for decades.

Meanwhile, anytime a salesperson tells their client that such and such a spot is going to be memorable and will engage recall - they are (mostly) lying.

(12/12/2014 9:48:07 AM)
I couldn't disagree with you more on your comment about recall. I do not remember any print ads from when I was 12. I do, however recall every jingle and branding statement I heard on radio and TV. Just ask McDonalds or Anheuser-Busch how they have grown their sales over the years. Ask the Federal Government why they banned cigarette ads from radio and TV but not from print. What you hear is far more important to memory than what you read. Perhaps a Roy Williams seminar would be in order.

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