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 12:47 pm

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

Postby beddows » Thu Apr 23, 2020 3:04 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
http://www.mexicorvcaravan.com
Radio history: CJSF, CFBV
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Fri May 01, 2020 5:37 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
pave
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Fri May 08, 2020 1:22 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
pave
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Fri May 15, 2020 3:16 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
pave
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Fri May 22, 2020 3:18 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
info@voicetalentguy.com
pave
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