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 » Sat Aug 08, 2020 11:03 am

Ron, I love your columns. I recall meeting a lawyer for one of the big, Canadian media companies. We were talking about one of the recent firings of a major talent in a major market. Without missing a beat, he summed it up nicely with 'the company doesn't like rogues.' Maybe, therein lies the issue.
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Sat Aug 08, 2020 1:14 pm

Indeed, B. Babe.
While a plagiarized line, "Plantation Capitalism" fits the situation quite nicely.
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Sun Aug 09, 2020 10:29 am

I have taken the liberty to re-post my most recent as it got buried on the prvious page.

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radio that I wanted to be in a position to have a good portion left over to take to the marketplace - offering hitherto unpublished, whiz-bang information and principles.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
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Re: What's It Going To Take...?

Postby pave » Sun Aug 16, 2020 11:07 am

What Radio Can Learn From Podcasters

Allowing for the extraordinary amount of content available on any podcast, compared to standard-issue radio broadcasts, there is something else being demonstrated. That being: The incredible capacity of listeners to absorb and process much more complex language than they are getting on the radio.

Not only are audiences more accepting of podcast materials, they seem to hunger for it. Audio books are another example of listeners finding more complex languaging so appealing. This is no small feat, as podcasts and audio books are both delivered through electronic media – also, along with radio, being processed primarily by our sub-dominant (right brain) hemispheres.

As such, any materials that strive in generating emotional responses are even more powerful and effective than if delivered in (hard copy) print – a primarily dominant hemisphere (left brain) process. It’s quirky, to be sure, but can still be consistently demonstrated by neurologists and many other rocket surgeons and thespians.

Given that radio audiences and podcast audiences may not, necessarily, be made up of the same segments of the population, the distinctions may be lost. But, it can’t be denied: People who are listening to podcasts or audio books are not simultaneously listening to the radio. And why would they be? Their desire to be entertained and informed is not being met by the majority of radio presentations.

The inanities and gibberish being foisted on radio audiences can only be tolerated for so long before, out of frustration and disappointment, audiences stray from the medium. Being buffed with fluff & stuff does take a mighty toll.

Now, I do appreciate that the devastating effects of the Covid-19 fiasco has collapsed the revenue stream of radio stations. The likelihood that owners and management will be considering these other important factors is almost nil. Understandable it may be, but only to a point. Yet, it does provide for an easily justified and eminently handy excuse.

It is still, I submit, incumbent on radio’s operators to be seeking out and testing better ways to increase the efficacy of this or that strategy for the benefit of their own organizations and the medium in general. This, for me, has always been the amazing, missing and dismissed factor in the dynamics of the business.

For all I know, mine has been among the few lone voices in the wilderness – howling for a period of transition and transformation. Another way of describing my own experience could be: In outer space, nobody can hear you scream - or whimper.

Still and while I may come off as a broken record – for those who remember the experience – I take every opportunity I can to point out: The language we use on the radio is the only element over which we have complete control. And, to our disgrace, that is the very element that has been trounced and wrecked the most over the years.

Our presenters have been relegated to the ranks of mewling meat-like products and bubble-headed automatons. Although there was that tragic, debilitating year in Montreal, I was never again put in that position as an on-air guy, I have difficulty in remembering and relating to the utter frustration that comes with being manacled and oppressed in such a manner. Further, the more modern calamity of being locked away in a studio to produce endless hours of voice tracked mumblings and fumblings is something else to which I have trouble relating. The mere thought of such a thing is, however, extremely disturbing.

I can now only reminisce about launching into stream-of-consciousness bits and rants on the air while being encouraged to continue doing so. (They applauded and, sometimes, they even threw money.) Not only was I able to generate some (arguably) bizarre content, I was also able to practice the techniques and methodologies of the language processes that I have been promoting in this space.

Indeed, I do wax longingly for what, for me, were those halcyon days of guerilla radio lore – all being practiced in mainstream formats. But, more and more, in some smaller ways, some of these elements are being resurrected and demonstrated in a number of podcasts. This, unfortunately, does not include the communicative principles to which I have been referring, but at least the content is making a comeback.

Sad and a sorry state it is that radio is not participating in either of these extraordinary dynamics.

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 Aug 23, 2020 7:35 pm

Radio Gingerly Approaches The Brink

Becoming aware of sloppy elocution and flailing, clichéd gibberish, - being the hallmarks of most of radio’s presenters - would, one might think, be enough of a challenge and a chore that needs to be addressed immediately. To, the contrary, the matter is not being considered – at all.

Program Directors, as often as not, are presenters themselves and are as guilty of generating the same mutterings as their fellows. These folks are no better informed on these matters than anybody else lurking in the hallways. They simply don’t have the wherewithal to intervene and be of any assistance to what remains of a deleted on-air staff.

Owners and managers having any expectations of their outfits returning to those halcyon days of yore (of six months ago) are deluding themselves, while not yet being able to connect these realities to their chugging massive quantities of the Kool-Aid.

Further, owners and managers seem to have no cognizance that they continue to slime audiences and advertisers with low-grade on-air presentations and third-class ad productions. Now, it can be argued there is little reason to do otherwise as they have, indeed, been getting away with it for quite some time.

Of course, these behaviors do nothing to elevate radio above the number 5 preference as an advertising medium. But there also seems to be few penalties for refusing to do so – at least in relative terms. The mantra has been: If it ain’t broke, why fix it?

What they do not realise is that, not only is the medium broken down, it has been thoroughly wrecked and is coughing along on two cylinders – making annoyingly grating noises and spewing smoke out the back end. Fortunate it is that rose-coloured glasses and noise-canceling earphones are convenient pieces of technology that, essentially, eliminate the issues.

As more and more of the talent base are being shown the doors or are being hurled under the closest uber vehicle, the chances of recovery are becoming less and less. Even if management, after a miraculous “a-ha” experience, could turn on the spigot – only to notice there is no one left to carry the water. Plus, the current crop of presenters would have to do the job on crutches and with one wing in a cast. They are neither educated nor prepared to do a better job, So, what with them being crippled and having to wear ball-gags an’ all…..

Talent is so remiss of an awareness of what can be accomplished through superior communications, they do have the feeling that they are, indeed, lost in the wilderness, staggering and careening about like so many pitiful zombies. Practically, redemption for these poor devils is, at this time, completely unknown and unavailable anyway.

This is no small or mean state of affairs for radio and its practitioners. A critical mass of-a-kind was reached a decade or more ago. Hitting the binders and pulling off a 180 is not in the plans. Nor is it in the cards. Ownership has determined that: Having already found out what doesn’t work – they are locked into it and continue doing it – only harder.

Even adding additional “live & local” talent to the mix will not result in developing any advantages for a local station. This is because those that might get tossed into the mix will arrive with no education or acquired skills in the business of communicating to a broadcast audience. All that would be added would be additional banal and unappealing noise, and an increasing overhead.

So, as I read the tealeaves and consider the Tarot, I am left with no other conclusion. Radio will continue its demise, but at an evolutionary pace – one that anybody would hardly notice and certainly one for which no red flags would be wagged in a panic.

If radio were not such an innately powerful and appealing medium, the planet would have gobbled it up a long time ago. But, again, if ownership and management continues to ignore these unique properties of radio, they will be doing so to their eventual demise. Nor will there be many lamentations. It will go the way of many other extinct operations, and discussions of how that all happened will become superfluous.

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 » Sat Aug 29, 2020 5:23 pm

And So It Begins

As many as 40 local television outlets and 200 Canadian radio stations could be going dark in the next three years. Covid-related financial pressures are held out as the obvious but still somewhat reasonable impetus. The Canadian Association of Broadcasters issued a report last Wednesday warning of potential closures and widespread job cuts. The most likely to close first are the country’s AM radio stations. Also included are other independent private radio and TV operations in smaller markets across the country.

This eventuality will come as no surprise to anyone else that has been paying attention – even before the pandemic. Covid-19 realities only hasten the clanging of the metal gates. Radio, despite the protestations of some vested interests and the forever, delusionally faithful has been staggering down this road, lurching towards a dark and forlorn future for quite some time.

Despite the ongoing mantra of radio’s (alleged) fantastically awesome and spectacular reach, this gospel has yet to get through to most of the advertisers. Given the perceptions on the street, any contrary evidence or positioning claims wither on the vine and are considered with incredulity and severe suspicion.

And why would it be otherwise? Any advertiser with ears to hear will be bombarded with the worst examples of minimalist broadcast advertising scrunched into interminably long, unappealing and incredibly annoying phusterclucks of spots, Then, to add insult, they are surrounded by the weakest of programming content.

Further, those outfits being run by the more menial-minded operators that will survive the upcoming onslaught of failures will be licking their chops at the amount of leftovers falling off the tables of those that suffer the collapse. Preparations to receive free lunches are underway. Pickings, however, will be slim.

Meanwhile, my thanks are offered for an emailed comment from Marc J. that triggered this piece. His considered opinion was about the better and smarter radio station operators being able to survive the coming travails. I’m not sure about that at all, even as a number will be able to cling to some floating wreckage and will manage to struggle to dry ground – mangled and exhausted. Others will be lapping against the shore - washed up as dead, bloated fish food.

My prevailing premise has been about radio’s refusal to consider, never mind apply, the existing methodologies, techniques and principles that would turn the business around – as a communicative and advertising medium – out of the back waters, and returning it into the mainstream of electronic media.

As I have regularly opined – there is no evidence that any of that is on the agenda for contemporary music-radio. To the contrary, stations are preparing for the prospect of even more cuts to programming and commercial production. And since the meat has been essentially already eliminated, it is the bone into which they will be carving. This hardly bodes well for a next set of blue-plate specials to be offered on the radio menu. A weak gruel will be provided instead.

This is, of course, a recipe only for those that qualify as bat-shit crazy. They are, if not clinically, then practically, insane. They are ape-snake nuts. And that would include, uhh, all of them. But, as they are so totally unaware of the already-provided and available alternatives to their substantial, but still unconfessed communicative woes, they are still able to cling to their madness as a form of desperate and, possibly, rational justification.

I mean, these are, after all, the same guys that are divesting themselves of anyone cowering in the hallways that might qualify as “talent”. Those poor devils get lanced like boils and whatever oozing offal which remains gets doused by anti-viral and anti-bacterial poultices. At that point the boys and girls are unceremoniously ushered out the doors and wished well in their future endeavours.

At some point, the newer AE’s are regaled with a 20-minute crash course on “Writing Effective Advertising Copy” and are then also thrown into the street - to manage or perish. Again, it is no surprise that jaded and cynical AE’s refer to their vocation as “The Radio Dodge”.

And so, as the inevitability of the demise of too many radio stations approaches, there will also be the muffled rattles of those that have been summarily victimized as they gasp out: “It didn’t have to be this way.”

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 Sep 06, 2020 1:48 am

Radio: Still Not Ready For Prime Time

As many in the industry are having to come to terms with the vaunted and eminent, but still imminent demise of up to hundreds of stations in the too near future, most of the outfits, particularly those that manage to hang on, are tragically ill prepared to even begin picking up the pieces. It’s almost surreal – one of those “That could never happen here,” scenarios. But, it is happening here, and the carnage is about to begin.

Radio’s banality binge has been going on for so long that few operators are even aware of the sorry state of the business – even in general terms. A lot of the owners and managers will continue monitoring their outfits and come to an almost universal conclusion: “Sounds okay to me.”

Being trapped in a miasma of mediocrity will, apparently, generate those kinds of responses. No awareness of complicity. No guilt for their transgressions and certainly no shame for unacknowledged sins are ever put forward.

While still avoiding the slandering of their families, maligning their political positions and calling out their ethical and moral principles – those that are still in play - I have still succumbed and stooped to the ever-so-lowly and tawdry practice of name-calling.

When, I incessantly wonder, will these cloth-heads and overall malingerers realize that the only element of a radio station over which they still have complete control is the language – the actual communications that are delivered by station staff and perpetrated on unsuspecting audiences and naïve and uninformed advertising clients.

Not only have this gang of ne’er-do-wells not picked up on the many nuances of communicating to a radio (electronic medium) audience, they have failed spectacularly to grasp even the primary and basic principles of contacting and influencing a broadcast audience.

Radio, as my incessant and endless loop goes, has been treated like it was a Direct and Authoritarian medium for, like, forever. Radio, at its best and most effective, is rather, an Indirect and Influential medium. The chaos and wreckage that ensues from maintaining and operating with the former premises can only be speculated. But I assure attentive, reasonable and sympathetic readers that it is significant. Radio is still considered a one-to-one medium and it still continues to assume that these individuals – having been contacted personally, of course – can be told what to do, and in all circumstances.

Radio has been getting away with these behaviours mainly because members of the audience can not reach out to the performers and choke the livin’ bejeezus out of them as audiences are constantly being verbally assaulted. This is partially because most of the audience is completely unaware they are being treated so shoddily. But again, this is about no transgressions coming to awareness on the part of the presenters, and any normally expected guilt and shame is unlikely to be forthcoming.

Now, the tired, tattered and ancient argument for continuing with the one-to-one approach has always been: A person listens with one set of ears at a time and, therefore, radio is, exclusively, a one-to-one subjective experience.

As I am always willing and eager to enthusiastically trash any goofy argument, I shall put it this way: There are no experiences in life that are not processed as an individual and subjective process. Radio’s claim is that it has made personal contact with the individual and, by doing so, is then free to frolic with the minds of these persons while bossing them around – one at a time! This, then, becomes the callous and woefully dangerous supposition. And it shows in all its radioactive poisoning glory. Now, toying with the minds of audiences members – I’m for all of that. The exercise, however, of boss-control? Hardly.

The arrogant and wholly unsupported insistence that radio is indeed a Direct and Authoritarian medium has been the prime position that has relegated radio into a third-class, number 5-rated advertising medium – while no other reforms are being considered or applied. The “Reach” story won’t be nearly enough to counteract the quickly-approaching and unsatisfactory trends. We are, instead, going to be taking it in the ear.

The lack of basic respect for the audience is constantly being demonstrated, even while maudlin tonalities and insulting verbiage is also being simultaneously applied. Presenters and writers are never introduced to the cold and bitter fact that they are communicating to multiples of an unknown and unspecified audience. And all the concocted presuppositions they can muster will do nothing to change that stark and harsh reality.

It is tough enough that the Covid-19 fiasco is going to hasten the demise of so many outfits. But, since the owners, management and line staff are so poorly prepared to cobble together some forms of functional radio stations afterwards, the prognosis for many more stations to follow suit is grim indeed.

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 Sep 13, 2020 10:19 am

Are We Thwarted?

As I scan the trades and forums, I must also admit how impressed I am that so many consultants and pundits rail against the status quo that radio insists on perpetuating. They do go on about breaking the mold, challenging the ways things have been and the need to break out with whole new strategies, as they apply to sales and programming.

But, alas, it is of no consequence. As I have heard from any number of GM’s during my travels: “Are you trying to tell me how to run my business?” I mean, they do get a little prickly, especially when concepts about which they have no clue get introduced.

Now, it’s one thing that owners and management refuse to consider the evidence and examples of techniques, methodologies and principles that have yet to take root in the radio lexicon. That is somewhat understandable and slightly forgivable.

It is, however, when they equally refuse to take into account all the evidences and examples of their continuing demise and their resultant, ongoing plunge into irrelevance that my hackles do get up.

I do ponder: Can radio get any more banal and mundane than it has already become? The answer to that posited, only partially rhetorical inquiry is: Why, yes. It certainly can. And steps are being taken to assure that outcome.

I remind more youthful and senior, but still astute readers to realize there was a time when scanning up and down the dial would reveal radio stations that were, sometimes significantly, different from the others. The play lists were pretty much universal but the personalities were particularly unique. This is a claim that can be made because those personalities were consistently and often demonstrating their particular qualities.

Before “consistency” became a synonym for “banality” many radio stations were doing stand out work in their markets, entertaining and informing their audiences as only a local outfit could do. The performers, it must be pointed out, were generally more skilled than the current crop of presenters. This is not a comment about the talent of contemporary on-air staff, but rather a nod to the fact that previous presenters had more occasion to experiment and hone their craft. They were, simply, on the air that much more often.

The new, but really old normal has become one in which the talent has been muffled and manacled to the degree that they have limited opportunity to shine. And it shows. While this is seditious, cynical and near criminal behaviour, it does, within it, contain a kernel of an opportunity.

That opportunity lies in the consideration of the entirety of the spoken word content being uttered and muttered on the radio in every market, small, medium and major.

Inquiries, after all, could be made into the deliveries of what and how we say what we do on the radio – for the purpose of becoming more appealing and more influential. In other words: more listenable.

The alternative is, of course, to keep on doing what we have been doing and in the ways we have been doing it. No one will have to consult the tealeaves or the tarot cards to determine where that strategy leads.

With the added encroachments on revenue generated by the Covid-19 fiasco, it would be safe to say that even a Harry Houdini, Chris Angel or Ruff - The Wonder Dog will be breaking out of these shackles.

And speaking of Ruff, programmers and consultants have been left, with their hair on fire, to keep chasing their tails – incessantly – in order to come to grips with and free themselves from the self-applied constraints under which all of them are forced to toil. It is an incredible bind in which they find themselves, and it goes on – and on.

I remind learned and conscientious readers: There are no alternatives open to radio than to address the whats and hows, specifically, of our communicative strategies. The continuation of striking down talent and replacing that with generic, milquetoast voice-tracks and maudlin syndicated programming shipped in from out of town only demonstrate an ability to mark time – in the mud.

Without significant efforts to change and improve, radio will, indeed, end up being thoroughly thwarted. None of that is necessary. But, it is likely.

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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