Google Search


Search This Blog

Friday, May 22, 2015

(TALENT) The Premier Medium


There are few, if any, radio managers, particularly those trapped in some monolithic corporate structure, who have not found their energies and life forces being drained away. Their superiors have no qualms about sucking the marrow from the bones of their underlings ? even as they, too, struggle with the glaring inequities they are obliged to foist on their minions. Most local management suffers with an unspoken desperation.

I didn't just make that up. Rather, it is a report on the attitudes of so many managers with whom I have had direct or indirect contact. Nor is this a new phenomenon; it has been around for decades. It just gets more pervasive, is all. Those who have an appreciation for, first, the absolute need for their outfits to get upgraded in the programming and commercial production departments, also lament they have no mandate to take any unwarranted action that could influence their positions in their markets. Fortunately, the guys down the street are wearing similar chains and restraints.

I have been taken to task more recently for insisting radio, generally, is in a pathetic state. But, even as I have been continuously providing strategies, techniques, and methodologies as solutions for what ails the communicative aspects of contemporary radio, my detractors keep insisting that I am, so to speak, a "nasty and negative Nancy." The irony lies in that I have never been challenged on the content of what I have been providing. This is bizarre ? mostly because the readers of these pieces are usually quite well placed, intelligent, and have had years of experience in the business.

I am satisfied that radio is the premier medium ? not because of what it used to be or for what it is today. Radio, to me, is the premier medium because of what it could be! My reference, then, is about unrealized potential. I am compelled to reiterate: Radio has a long way to go before it can claim the position of "the premier medium." For that to happen, a significant number of internal approaches will have to be adopted into the mix of the on-air communications. The irony is that, when these principles are presented, an overwhelming number of radio practitioners will reject them out of hand ? without any serious consideration, never mind a reasonable trial run.

I would hope the vast majority of operators have, by now, reluctantly accepted there will be no technology ? no gizmo ? coming down the pike that is going to save the medium from a noticeable slide. Even considering the influence of other media, most of the damage, I submit, has been self-inflicted. Much of that wreckage has been caused by organizations that have few clues about the dynamics under which radio operates ? and, it could also be said, the innate, natural components under which radio is governed.

Meanwhile, radio can be "the premier medium" for a number of reasons ? some innate to the medium and others because of opportunities that are available to communicate much more effectively, and with a great deal more appeal.

Relative to other media, the production of commercial content is less expensive to provide. The term "shoestring" comes to mind. Unfortunately, local radio has gone into the "scraping the bottom of the barrel" mode and been supplying such shoddy copy and performances for so long (decades) that even "free" comes off as a bit of a rip. Still, there's gold in them thar hills. To exploit that, radio is going to have to invest in some picks, shovels, and pans, and then learn how to use them.

As a partial refresher: Radio's model-of communication is flawed ? fundamentally.

Radio continues to be presented as if it were a direct medium. That's what allows the disastrous "one-to-one" presupposition to dominate radio's philosophy ? through programming and commercial production. Radio, because of our inability to target a single, unknown individual without challenging others who are (obviously) listening, sets itself up for ongoing communicative failures. Radio is an indirect medium. To exploit that fact, radio will be required to make significant adjustments to its communicative approaches.

A radio station, including any speaker on the air, has no authority over anyone in the audience. Yet we continue to make demands for behaviors as if we were operating in North Korea. (Penalties for non-compliance are non-existent.) It could be beyond a reasonable person's comprehension that such a practice even exists.

With rare exceptions, people on the air have been suppressed to a suffocating degree ? so much so that anything they are allowed to say and the manner in which they tend to say it becomes no more than another annoyance (tune-out factor) to an audience. Any remnants of actual appeal have turned to dust years ago.

Speakers on the air, and through commercials, are completely ignoring the fact that audience members experience their world, or rather, their own models of the world, through their senses, first, and derive some semblance of meaning from those factors after. Radio people are not purposely including those sensory references in their communications. Less, in this context, is not more. I point out: Talent has been systematically shut down because of a history of providing overwhelming "babble and incoherent gibberish." Talent needs to be trained in the elements mentioned (above) and in many other more subtle but still powerful skills of the professional communicator.

Further, I have yet to meet anyone in radio who does not realize that something is seriously wrong ? soiling the medium's effect. But, they have also been unable to identify what it is, specifically, or how to correct it. I do sympathize with those many bright and alert managers who are allowed to attempt nothing in order to adapt to the serious threats to radio's future prosperity. Radio ? becoming the premier medium ? might have to wait.

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 that the most important communicative aspects of broadcasting, as they relate to talent and creative, have yet to be addressed. Check out his website at

(5/21/2015 12:07:30 AM)
Cudos to Mel for clearing that up. Now, would anyoneelse care to rebut or rebuff the invitation to supply contradictory evidence to the (above) propositions...?
(5/20/2015 8:53:34 PM)
Hey Gadfly--

Take an ice tea (those are summer drinks) into the production room, set the stage with some generic tracks, insert a few SFX, put the cans on your ears, voice the alphabet in basso glorious and pretend you're important. There. Now you have met Ron's qualifications to discuss the state of the radio industry.

(5/20/2015 7:19:22 PM)
Let me catch my breath, Mel.
Given that Canada is a communist dictatorship and that our prime minister lives in an igloo, I can appreciate your disdain and obtuse position.

Meanwhile, the propositions I put forward for radio's consideration were, for the most part, taught to me by...wait for it... Americans!
Irony can be so cruel.

Would you (or any others) care to challenge any of those with pertinent evidence? I might be startled.

(5/20/2015 3:45:12 PM)

You talk in, make that squares. Do I understand what you're you're talking about? No. You don't understand it either.
American radio, of which you have limited knowledge as you peer over the fence but do not work in, doesn't care if you don't like it. The number of things that you don't like is long. The number of things that you do like can be found in a mirror.

(5/20/2015 10:30:00 AM)
Mel represents another example of those who, while not considering or understanding the propositions, are more than willing to pontificate. Yet,not one of the principles I put forward does he counter.

Besides, "bad production" is a subjective opinion and not a point I would ever profess - at least, not without specificity.
I would also invite Mel to provide the evidence supporting the challenges to which he alludes.

Further, Mel has just become my new prime example of radio managers who refuse to consider moving the industry forward. Instead, he makes booing, hissing and cat-call noises. Fairly typical - sadly.

Add a Comment | View All Comments Send This Story To A Friend

View the original article here