What's It Going To Take...?

General Radio News and Comments, Satellite & Internet Radio and LPFM

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

Postby Broadcast Babe » Tue Mar 23, 2021 11:58 am

OMG Ron, your column is not only hilarious but true! May I add the worn out phrase I hear much too often in the Vancouver market 'this is what everyone's talking about.' Really? Who is everyone? No one I know.
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Tue Mar 23, 2021 4:44 pm

Quite so, BB.
You might also agree that the premise makes for a heck of a hook on which to hang a dangling and pathetic programming principle.

Meanwhile, in the interests of continuity and to avoid the jumped page, I am reposting the original piece.

Make It So
A pundit of ill-repute, Mike McVay, the former (in)famous grand poobah of Cumulus in the States was waxing phonetic the other day. He was slathering on about radio’s need to generate FOMO in its audiences. Bringing on and introducing the Fear Of Missing Out in those audiences, according to Mike, is accomplished by providing loads of ginger-peachy content for the listeners.

Not only is this not a revelation, there is a strange irony included in his missive. This is the guy whose hands are still bloody from the outright slaughter of content and the wacking of (allegedly) talented presenters during his tenure at Cumulus.

Whatever talent wasn’t being jettisoned on a regular basis and being replaced by voice-tracking bots were otherwise being strangled by Draconian programming rules. That plus the closing of windows-of-opportunity to actually perform this whizzy, newly-manifested content was all taking place during his watch at the company.

Nevertheless, Mike prattles on about the need to produce more unique content and materials that are “specifically interesting to your audience”. This pronouncement continues to be the chicken bone that is liable to get stuck in my craw at any time, and facilitate an emergency 911 call. How that call could be placed might prove interesting:

(911 operator) 911. What is the nature of your emergency?
(Me) Accckkk!
(911 operator) Could you be more specific?
(Me) Gacck! Wheeze. Gaacckk!
(911 operator) Unless you can tell me what is wrong, I can’t direct your call.
(Me) Accckkk!
(911 operator) Please hold.

This assumption that anybody can determine what is interesting to any radio audience takes on the cloak of, if not a prayer request, then an extremely dangerous and murky form of voodoo. What part of what audience is included in these mysterious proclamations? Can this information be poofed into existence? Does it cover the psychographics and demographics of the station in general?

After a determination of some very generalized targets in a station’s audience, the concept of providing materials that are “specifically interesting to (your) audience” is a mug’s game – doomed to a very unsatisfying set of results. To be successful at this requires that the programmer be blessed with the capacity to read minds – lots of minds. Let’s just kill that idea before it takes root and mutates into something even more viral and dangerous. Nobody in radio has that skill. The really good mind readers are already ensconced in – no place else but Las Vegas.

Meanwhile, Mike encourages talent to work with “the hottest story of the day”. Well, okay. “Hot” according to whom? The talent? The audience members” The programmer? Does this hot story travel through all dayparts? What about taking this tack qualifies as “unique and interesting materials”?

Plus, there is the assumption - or hope - that providing this exemplary content will produce a FOMO experience in the audience, Sorry. Preparing pablum results in the skills to whip up pancake batter. Audiences, I suggest, are far more adept at getting all their FOMO needs met by sources other than commercial radio.

I get it. Producing multiple experiences of FOMO would be a boon to any talent or station. But, c’mon, man. What are the chances? Plus, what could be more terrifying to a talent than receiving the memo demanding that FOMO materials be produced right now? A Jean Luc Picardian “Make it so” is hardly going to cut it.

I fear Mike is working in an alternate reality that does not scue with the generalized reality that exists for most radio environments today.

Please note: I am inviting reader comments to be sent to my email address (below).
Ronald T. Robinson
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Mon Apr 12, 2021 10:45 am

Visigoths Are Approaching

“We could get a monkey to do that.” Although insulting and demeaning to an extreme of the on-air talent-base, this has been the position of almost all of radio’s ownership and management. This has been case for almost 30 years.

Meanwhile, as the “live & local” discussions continue unabated – more like kicked down the road – there are other dynamics in play that nobody seems to want to discuss. As radio continues to purge itself of multiples of “live & local” performers, more formidable problems are being generated.

Since collapsing the talent-base has been an ongoing strategy, many of the last two generations of management would be completely unaware when the situation was any different. Lower wages and minimal hours without benefits have become the norm and not the exception.

So, were there to be a turnaround in the future of radio, owners will find they are girding their loins, once again, but will also discover they are painfully bereft of any swords, spears or shields. They’ll be confronting the Visigoths armed only with padded gotchies.

While “live & local” may be an ennobling and honourable position to extoll, the mere mechanics of delivering on that premise are, today, insurmountable.

The hurdles over which radio management are going to have to leap are significant. Going “live & local” will entail a number of radical changes on the part of management. These will include more time spent and more investments made than radio may be willing to shoulder. The current business model entails cutting talent-expenses – as much for maintaining survival as for demonstrating greater profitability.

A few of the challenges facing radio include:
• Locating the talent that will be replacing the ranks of those already jettisoned will be extraordinarily difficult. Some that have never been on the air before will be led to the microphone as lambs to the slaughter. Most of them will suffer from an overabundance of incompetence culminating in the cruel trashing of their egos – through no fault of their own.

• Any suppositions that somebody with a nice personality and maybe a quick wit will find themselves overwhelmed by the actual requirements of a broadcast communicator.

• Even though, over the years, the job description has been stultified and stupefied down to the reading of 3x5 cards, all other attributes of a true radio presenter will have been utterly ignored.

• It could be argued that many in management and ownership are simply unaware that the nuances to which I am referring are even part of the package. The values and benefits of a talent being able to deliver different tonalities, volumes, tempos, mic-distancing and most importantly, the skills in producing appropriate and effective linguistic patterns designed exclusively for on-air presenters will be completely lost and therefore ignored by managers - and talent alike.

All of this hardly bodes well for the more effective implementation of any “live & local” considerations that may come up. Truth be told: Given the attitudes and lack of pertinent knowledge of contemporary management, the chances of a greater implementation of a “live & local” - as a new and woefully needed strategy - remains dead in the water. No wind, no sails, no rudder and no set course. The Visigoths will have an easy time of it.

Please note: I am inviting reader comments to 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 » Wed Apr 28, 2021 12:21 pm

Scourge Of The Pundits

Based on what’s being put out lately, I must presume there are severely slim pickin’s for the cadre of coaches, consultants, and corporate programmers out here. Besides all the retreads of admonitions that are over 50 years old, there hasn’t been much in the way of newer, interesting, or more effective strategies being provided for on-air talent and copywriters.

The more recent offering from one of the better-known programming honchos has been about on-air etiquette. – as if that was a thing. Essentially, he droans on about the need for the on-air gang to respond – in the most pleasant of nine-nice ways to the comments coming in from listeners through the phones, social media or carrier pigeon.

Doing so, it is purported, will enhance the positive experience of the listeners – as if they remember they made a comment and are tuned in when the on-air response is eventually given,

Now, I don’t mind responding to listener input so long as it is semi-cogent and has some semblance of grammatical solidarity. Adjudicating the quality of listener feedback can be a tedious and frustrating chore. It also carries with it the danger of the talent becoming jaded right smartly and wondering, “Who are these slugs?”

Further, talent is encouraged to make nice with the other performers at the station, especially on the air. Whether they are engaged in dust-ups in the parking lot between shifts, everything between them, so far as a listener is concerned, is just peachy and going along swimmingly.

That a pundit would have to strangle this cat openly in the first place leaves me somewhat confused and perplexed. Am I to understand this little chat is necessary?

Further, and unless it was implied and I missed it, there were no references to ”couth”. For me, as it applies to performing on-air, couth has always been a subjective term, brimming over with nuances and vagaries. Those of us who toiled by “talkin’ dirty and playin’ the Hits were always operating at the abyss of crossing over and falling into raging poor form or abject nastiness, rudeness and callousness. It was a line many of us tap-danced around while some of us outright stomped on.

I am reminded of a chat I had with my PD.:
(PD) “Have you no couth?”
(Me) I have lots of f***in’ couth.”
(PD) “You get very rude on the air.”
(Me) “That’s part of the job. But I do have f***in’ couth - oozing from my pores and falling out of my ass.”
(PD) “But you are upsetting some listeners.”
(Me) So, are we running a Christian retreat and phustercluck?”
(PD) I am glad we could have this little chat.”

Meanwhile, talent is roaming the halls trying to avoid any eye contact with their PD’s while being utterly ill-prepared to take on a contemporary radio audience. They have yet to be educated on the basics, never mind the subtleties and nuances of broadcast communications. Then they are expected to produce meaningful verbalizations to an audience that is starving for anything with substance and worthwhile content.

Someday they might also learn the techniques of delivering those uncouth mutterings in ways that actually make them acceptable to their audiences. It can be done.

Today’s priority, however, is to make especially nice to the audience and to respond, without malice or sarcasm, to their highly valued and appreciated commentaries. Control rooms all over the country are going to have to start supplying complimentary barf bags.

Please note: I am inviting reader comments to 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 » Wed May 26, 2021 12:59 pm

Pundit Arrogance

Well, they’re at it again. Those pesky pundits that, by now, should know better, are yelping like frustrated jackals that have been unsuccessful in making a kill during a dark African night. Their plaintiff wails have been about the lack of radio content from the talent-base and the shoddy productions from the commercial departments.

These are not particularly new laments as the concepts of talent-content and effective commercial production have, essentially, left in the shadows as not being worthy of consideration or attention.

But now that they go into their bag of programming tricks, they find they are operating from empty sacks. The attention to formatic jiggery-pokery has been found to be lacking in impact on both audiences and advertisers.

They have become shameless in their rhetoric of demanding more and greater content and much better spots be added to programming mixes – as if nobody else had figured this out decades ago.

But, given they have little else to promote, all that is left is harkening back to the original premises that have been so callously tossed aside, lo those many moons ago.

Given how obvious this circumstance is to those who have been around or are still hanging around the radio business, the pundits can’t help themselves without jumping into the conversation by sporting full-dress arrogance and hubris.

They address the generation of jock-content and superior commercial production as being simply a matter of: Making decisions to implement the procedures, and to treat them as no more than plug-in and play elements.

Far from it. There is an extraordinary dearth of individuals who can supply that superior content and those exceptional commercials. To be candid, there are many in the business who are of the opinion that no more than tweaks be applied to these matters – a touch-up or a little polishing here and there should be more than enough to turn the whole thing around. They are, at least, confused and at worst – deluded.

The necessary talent to produce superior content and much better commercial content are, for the most part, missing in action. They have left the building.

But the challenges are much greater than just replacing people. Among those challenges are the matters of the missing educations necessary to produce such exemplary content and commercial product. Both new and used talent have yet to be educated in the required skills to both appropriately and effectively address a radio audience.

Again, plugging-in and playing other on-air participants will do nothing to assuage the problems facing the contemporary raft of broadcasters. The arbitrary replacement of individuals may, in practice do more harm than good.

New and used talent are still unaware of the concepts of radio being an indirect medium rather than a direct medium. They are still unaware of the pitfalls of going on the air and making demands for behaviour. Plus, they still don’t know about the influence that the manipulation of tonalities, tempo, separate volumes and nuanced mic-technique can have on an audience. Nor do they factor in the values of applying metaphors and analogies to their patterns of speech. Talent doesn’t know about any of these concepts because: There is no one around to teach them.

Audiences, while unlikely to articulate their concerns about a whole new raft of unskilled talent, may yet and still – vote with their ears and deny the stations of the participation the outlets so desperately want and need.

If only the easier route of plug-in and play were so effective. It won’t be.

Please note: I am inviting reader 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 » Sat Jun 12, 2021 12:11 pm

Stagnating And Left In The Lurch

Too bad it is that radio has learned little from the chaotic experiences brought on by the pandemic. That is, unless “learning” can be construed as a huge opportunity to cut even more talent and more services from an already limited plate of goodies being provided.
“Hey! We got no choices here. Revenues have collapsed. These are things we gotta do. Some guys will have to be wacked. It’s business, you unnerstand?”

As radio crawls out of the chasm into which it was thrown by the onslaught of Covid, it claws its way back to the surface in worse shape than before. Any expectations that it might reclaim its (questionable) glory might be somewhat premature. Then again, it’s not as if the bar had been set all that high anyway.

Pundits, meanwhile, are falling all over each other to trot out the old, tired and tattered formatics that only maintained some of the status quo prior to the fiasco. And why would they not? These ancient premises are all they’ve ever had; all they’ve got and all they are likely to acquire. It’s about: More of the same – only the same.

I’m not reading much about the tremendous (alleged) advantages of taking a station through the “live & local” process. I am satisfied this is because owners and management have very little confidence that such a strategy would be particularly advantages, Plus the reality of driving up the expenses on a very “iffy” proposition are not lost on them, either.

Stations have committed themselves to running bare bones operations and they are unlikely to be deterred from that premise in the foreseeable future. Besides, there is the added benefit of having to deal with fewer wacked-out, ego-ridden members of the talent corps – a noticeable and welcome relief.

To their chagrin, they may realise, far too late, they are involved in Show Business – a business of shows. The argument can be made that they haven’t come to that realization at all – ever. To most, it’s all about flogging spot-time and anything else becomes severely peripheral. Indeed, sometimes a wolverine can be shoved up a drainpipe. But them critters ain’t happy and they do have memories.

The other matter is that while some of the more astute consultants are finally clamouring for more and better talent-content and for the writing and production of superior commercials, they are still at a loss as to who, specifically, is going to be delivering all these wonderful materials.

As an industry, we are still trapped in the jaws of that minimalist beast that accepts “For all your dining needs – eat at Joe’s.” These excuses for commercial content are beyond embarrassing – they are humiliating - and are worthy of spit and vitriol.

Again, were it not for the innate power of the medium to get inside audiences’ skullery regions and impact on a weird and twisted neurological level, we would have been sent to the backwaters where media stagnates and rots.

There is so much to learn about how to, specifically, communicate to a broadcast audience. Any endeavour to engage at that level is so unlikely to occur that the mere consideration of the matter is enough to send most owners and managers scurrying for the exits and back to their, at least, predictable, and familiar drainpipes.

Please note: I am inviting reader 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 » Mon Jul 05, 2021 11:15 am

What Fills In The Gaps?

They have chomped down on the bone and they just won’t let go. I am referring to the professional pundits’ whining and mewling about the lack of of outstanding on-air talent. To get this factor out of the way quickly: Who was it that created this lack-of-talent scenario in the first place?

The easy answer is: Every owner, manager and consultant with a pulse and some influence that not only killed that goose – they cooked it up in such a way that not even the aroma remains. Talent was marched out of the stations to the rear parking lot and the bosses dispatched the poor devils with extreme prejudice. Then they hid the bodies under the tarmac.

Here is what is key to that particular situation: Not only was Talent wiped out, the knowledge, intuitions and traditions that were encapsulated by years of their being on the air were also destroyed. No complete records were compiled and what little that did make up part of that library was dragged to the burn barrels. What is left is a smouldering bin and a gaping hole of non-expertise.

Still, the pundits continue to insist that radio’s salvation lies in the context of getting fabulous on-air talent back on the radio and toute your suite while you’re at it.

Back in the day when “We could get a monkey to do that.” was being trotted out as an explanation and a justification for showing the higher-priced talent the door and dragging in lesser talent, owners and managers acted like they had just had an enormous “ah-ha” experience and had, because of their innate wisdom, tripped over the motherlode of increased profits.

“That’s fantastic!” they chortled over their supremely good fortunes. “We’ll hire the cheapos. The audience and the advertisers will hardly notice!” In fairness, audiences and advertisers hardly complained at all and ain’t it wonderful when a plan blows right through Customs.

In time, audiences and advertisers did start noticing the decrease in products and services. Partially because of the writers being slapped out the door and partially because of the dirge of talent available to perform on the spots. But it was a subtle process and eventually, owners and management couldn’t discern what it was that was causing the declines. Everything had become so maudlin and that had become and remains the status quo.

This situation hardly bodes well for me as I am the guy who has been insisting that unless radio practitioners are re-trained in both the basics and the nuances of radio communications, there is little likelihood that anybody’s fortunes will be turned around.

Two major factors have to be addressed even before any applications of my materials can take place.

1. Owners and management will have to, of their own volition, determine that massive upgrades in the number and quality of on-air talent has become absolutely necessary.
2. Acquiring such talent from where, specifically will be a yeoman’s chore – almost impossible. Will management know what they are looking for and will they recognise it when it comes before them? Plus who is going to re-train the newbies on even the traditional expectations and capacities of those talents that have come and gone before?

Only when those elements have been handled will there even be a prospect of getting them involved in up-grading their skills to the point where they can become serious communicators and on-air presenters.

There are extraordinarily huge gaps in this structure of radio as it is. The chances of any of them making the huge leaps necessary to re-engage audiences and advertisers are grim, indeed. Too bad, too, as it is all eminently doable.

Please note: I am inviting reader comments to be sent to my email address (below).
Ronald T. Robinson
info@voicetalentguy.com
pave
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