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 » Thu Dec 19, 2019 4:31 am

The Realities Of Unconscious Communication

Psychologist, George A Miller, first introduced what has since become locked-in lore back in 1956. It has to do with the “seven plus or minus two” premise of in awareness, thought retention. This is a representation of how many elements of experience people can hold consciously.

When it comes to those people listening to the radio, their paying conscious attention to what they are listening becomes a bit of a chore. Let’s just say a person is driving their car. They might be paying attention to the road – a good thing. They could be having an internal conversation. They could also be adjusting their seating position. They might be paying attention to a passenger or the kids or the dog or all of those. They could be noticing an amber light or somebody making a turn into their lane. They could become aware of an itch or another bodily development.

Now, please appreciate: All of these elements are requiring that attention be paid and all are happening in evolving time. None of these are events, but rather processes. Add to all that – the radio station. Even that is not a singular element. That is because what is being communicated involves the triggering of our many sensory capacities.

It’s not about just hearing the radio – it’s about processing the information or other on-air elements, like the music. Even as that is happening, we could also be having another internal chat by commenting on what we are hearing. And then there is the frequency change the listener undertakes when they get tired of the commercial phusterclucks. All of these draw our attention – even if only momentarily. So, a reader can appreciate when all of these possibilities reach the “seven plus or minus two” threshold.

Now, I do appreciate where, from time to time, the radio catches our attention and becomes one of the “plus or minus two” experiences in our awareness, but those occasions, especially in the spoken word environments, are actually quite rare. Shabby commentary and shoddy commercials will drive those elements into a listener’s unconscious realm in one hell of a hurry.

Our conscious minds are easily overwhelmed. Everything else, then, drops into unconsciousness. Rather than the iceberg analogy where 10 percent of the bulk is above the surface and 90 percent is below the surface, I prefer the analogy of a rapidly evolving and changing lava lamp to represent conscious/unconscious processing. Elements of experience rise to the level of awareness and are quickly replaced by other bits of experience.

Since language is processed exclusively at the unconscious level, it might be prudent for radio communicators to apply those linguistic elements and patterns that work best – at the unconscious level.

The materials I have been providing do, indeed, work best at the unconscious level of any given listener. The attempts at delivering price/product/benefits information into already-overwhelmed conscious minds are much more of a struggle than it has to be. Trying to get listeners paying attention to pure content - and in awareness - is a difficult enough chore, particularly given the “seven plus or minus” factor that is always in play.

Well-crafted radio communications, both on-air and in commercial content, are far more likely to have influence when targeted at listeners’ unconscious minds.

As a further reminder: Because listening to the radio is, primarily, a sub-dominant (right brain) neurological process, the more likely it is that most messaging will be limited to those capacities supplied almost exclusively to that hemisphere.

A slight irony would be that when broadcasters are listening, they are doing so by attempting to be objective, and would be applying dominant (left brain) capacities to the practice.

Failures to address these and the other strategies and methodologies I have been promoting will, I submit, assure that radio will continue to hold down fifth place on the list of desirable entertainment, informational and advertising media.

It would be wise to consider the “seven plus or minus two” factor as it is ubiquitous, but also pervasive in the accessing of electronic media, including radio.

Over the decades, radio has found what doesn’t work. Instead of reassessing and developing its skill-sets, radio has been doubling down and doing what hasn’t been working for decades, only they have been doing it harder.

Continuously delivering the least possible services that provides the least possible positive responses from our markets by presenters that are operating with the least education and acquired skills that are directed at audiences and advertisers, is hardly a recipe for many future successes. To the contrary, it is a recipe for an imminent demise.

Please note: I am inviting reader comments be sent to my email address (below).

Ronald T. Robinson
info@voicetalentguy.com
pave
Advanced Member
 
Posts: 1524
Joined: Tue May 23, 2006 11:22 am

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

Postby pave » Thu Dec 26, 2019 9:07 am

A New Communications Model For Radio – A Definite Maybe

Over the last eight installments or so, I have been re-presenting many of the strategies that constitute an Advanced Communication Model for Radio Professionals. Every part of this program flies in the face of almost all of our traditional methodologies of communicating to a broadcast audience.

Perhaps, for those astute and regular readers, considering these (relatively) new approaches has been a confusing, if not an outright painful set of exercises. After all, who among us wants to be told that what they have been doing their entire careers is not only wrong, but destructive in the delivery, as well.

Programmers and consultants, their plates already overflowing with stomping out bush fires and re-arranging deck chairs, have little time or desire to delve into a Pandora’s Box of communicative strategies – strategies which, by the way, have yet to be proven in the programmers’ own experience in any meaningful way.

The risks of learning and applying the model are just too great, what with the extra time and effort it would take to implement the methods. On-air staffs are in the control rooms toasting weenies and marshmallows over open fires. When a PD roars into the room, wild-eyed and brandishing a fire extinguisher, she is dumfounded by the staffs’ casual and quizzical, “You’ve got a problem?”

No. This doesn’t seem to be the time to blow up the traditional models of communicating with which we are saddled and burdened to smithereenies. There are, after all, no good times for the exercise. Besides, and this is the most important point: Talent and writers have been so suppressed in their communicative options, both in time spent on-air and in content, that the very idea of applying more sophisticated methodologies becomes almost a fools errand.

“When”, a frustrated communicator could wonder. “Do I get the opportunity and time to apply these whiz-bang premises?”

In order for these linguistic applications to kick in, talent will need the time off air and on-air to learn and apply them. And what are the chances of that? Programmers would be more likely to supply their on-air talent with loaded weapons along with the admonition, “Don’t actually shoot anybody!” The ironies here are thick, and they are noxious.

This radio situation is one in which proactivity is essential – it is, indeed, required. Applying these methodologies will improve the affect that radio has on its audiences as well as for its advertisers. The application of the model is about ripping away the tired, old and traditional linguistic approaches we have been foisting on those very people we are obligated to serve. The old methods have been just barely serviceable and, I would argue, mostly damaging in tuning out and turning off audiences and advertisers.

Again, I repeat: I understand that beyond the neurological evidence, the use of the model by major advertising agencies and my own vast experience of applying the strategies, there is little in results that can be provided to Program Directors and senior management that will demonstrate the extraordinary result that comes from making the changes.

I also appreciate that for radio to pick up on these strategies, things will have to go very, very badly, first – even beyond the low esteem that radio is held as an advertising medium. This would be in spite of the fairly substantial reach that radio still enjoys.

Maybe some biggies and mom & pops may bite the bullet and cave in. Gawd knows the majors are doing everything they can to dilute their outfits to becoming no more than mere also-rans and examples of robo-radio. Even those declines might just open things up for the remaining stations, leaving the markets open to pillage and the usurping of available, left over advertising revenues. This will give them pause to, having found out what doesn’t work – to do it harder.

So, my positions remain “iffy” – at best. However, the struggle continues. It is a righteous endeavour.

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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Posts: 1524
Joined: Tue May 23, 2006 11:22 am

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

Postby pave » Thu Jan 02, 2020 4:59 am

Radio Has Limited Options
In my most recent, I was lamenting the irony of introducing all of my linguistic jibber-jabber into a radio environment that is not constructed to accept it – never mind exploit it.

Jocks that are manacled by house rules of, primarily, delivering 3x5 card liners and extraordinary lapses between opportunities to actually communicate to an audience – a result of long music sweeps and interminable spot clusters. Audiences can go through a couple of quarter hours and only hear the presenter once or twice – tops.

Radio copywriters, meanwhile, have been put on the endangered species lists and their ilk could collapse without notice or remorse. It could happen at any time, their dwindling numbers approaching a threshold from which there may be no return. Those that do survive, for the most part, are to be found cowering in back offices, nostrils raised in the air and ever wary of approaching footsteps.

Yes, friends and fellow, fervent radio aficionados, corporate radio ownership has been committing a form of internal suicide for decades. Not quite on life-support, nevertheless, corporate radio has been selling off its life fluids to the point where there is little left to contribute and much less to save.

Presenters have either been abruptly knocked off and had their bodies buried under parking lots across the street, while those that remain have been summarily lobotomized and/or been suppressed into abject superficiality. Voice-tracking staffs have been relegated to a dank, back studio where they do the same daily program ad nauseam. They have difficulty breathing and can no longer feel their legs. This is their punishment for wanting to get into “show business”.

Plus, what with the copywriting duties being handed off to AE’s and janitorial staff, the opportunities to communicate powerfully to a radio audience on behalf of naïve and trusting advertisers are banished into a dry, sucking void.

Radio has, indeed, brushed and rolled itself into a tight, claustrophobic corner, and then, set fire to the paint. There seems to be little chance of escape.

The desperately panicked proclaim that the way out of this radio limbo is to: Go back to the old days and the old ways. They can be forgiven their understandable panic, but not for their poorly thought-out remedies.

Some fast facts:
• The talent required to “go back” is no longer available.
• There is little evidence that “going back”, even if talent were available, would be anything more than an expensive exercise.
• The mind-set of corporate radio is such that even a consideration of “going back’ is so dangerous, it gets met with boos, hisses, catcalls and nervous, guarded laughter.
• That “copywriting”, in other media, is considered a profession is totally lost on and escapes the consideration of radio management. To quote a former PD of mine, “We could get a monkey to do that.” This was the rambling of an individual who was completely unclear on the concept.

To be sure, if radio is to become reinvigorated, it must, first, dedicate itself to a complete re-training of on-air and writing staffs. And then it must provide the room, space and time on air to practice and become proficient in the new methodologies.

PD’s and consultants can spend their time in an ongoing flurry of activities to put out bush fires, re-arrange deck chairs and, otherwise, waste their efforts in only maintaining some kind of status quo – a scenario that most readers already appreciate as a wasted effort with little to show for the effort.

The principles I have been discussing these last months represent the only known recourse for broadcast communicators. There is nothing explicit or implied about “going back” in any of the provided strategies other than well-trained and practiced presenters do get to talk, once again.

Please note: I am inviting reader comments be sent to my email address (below).

Ronald T. Robinson
info@voicetalentguy.com
pave
Advanced Member
 
Posts: 1524
Joined: Tue May 23, 2006 11:22 am

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

Postby pave » Thu Jan 09, 2020 11:19 am

We Can Get There From Here

I do appreciate that I paint a fairly gloomy picture for the future of radio, music-radio in particular. I also appreciate that many managers that are reading this would be going, “What’s this guy talking about? We have a handle on it.”

And therein, lies the rub. When people that have a problem – even a significant problem – are either unaware of it, or worse, are deluding themselves that no problem exists, the potential and need to address the issues become of no consequence whatsoever.

Now, when I say “future”, I mean a more significant future, a more effective future and a more prosperous future. Maintaining radio’s status quo, I submit, is no more than a strategy for a rather tedious, painful and protracted demise.

Radio’s demise will come about, not in a catastrophic explosion where all hell breaks loose in an instant with flying body parts and scattered pink slips, but rather with sporadic collapses, whimpers and spasmodic jerks that foretell of an ultimate failure and an expenses-paid cruise into oblivion.

There really is no accepted way around it: Radio has gagged and suppressed its talent base – both on-air and in copywriting – to the degree where wheezes, gasps and gibberish is accepted as presentable content.

It’s not that the presenters don’t have some (alleged) talent; it’s that a casual listener will hardly ever be exposed to it. This is, of course, because the talent has been banned from putting any of their (alleged) talent on display. So, if listeners are not getting the benefit of this talent, it doesn’t exist. An eager but still droning, spoken station promo and a word-for-word repeat of some extraneous human interest pieces ripped from the internet hardly serve as examples of anybody’s astute awareness or sparkling personality.

I put forward the premise that being on the air at any contemporary radio station presenting any of the standard musical formats does not constitute meaningful work for a grownup, or, for that matter, a young person, as well.

The spoken word, after all, is the only element over which both local and corporate radio has complete control. Music, many of the spots and the technologies are all out-sourced, Syndicated shows and voice tracks could be argued as being of the imported ilk, too. Besides, the V/T’ed portions are not only mostly bereft of any personality, they are also missing the electric spontaneity of a real-time, live & local broadcast.

Still, as I say on the Dr. Ho infomercials, “But wait! There’s more!” Even as the Dr. Ho spots are examples of poorly crafted copywriting, I admit to being a V/O ho’ for Dr. Ho.

So, one could wonder: How do we get from here – a struggling and exhausted electronic medium - to there – a more prosperous and significantly more effective medium?

Alert readers that have been paying attention will already know my response: Train the on-air staff and the writers in the basics and nuances of more effective broadcast communications.

Granted, this is not an exercise that will be embraced by anything close to a majority of radio operators. Practically, there is the vague, although unpromising possibility that only one of the corporate ownership groups would even consider the project, This, as it would indeed be a yeoman’s chore – with assurances, to be sure, but no guarantees, either.

Still, there are no alternatives left – none that would encompass the potential to improve the industry. Going back to those (also alleged) halcyon days of yore is not an option. The opportunities for real talent have gone the way of the carrier pigeon.

Indeed, the only real alternative is for radio to go forward – to an environment where talent has become educated and skilled at communicating far more effectively to a broadcast audience – and then, given the time on-air to develop, apply and enhance those skills.

Please note: I am inviting reader comments be sent to my email address (below).

Ronald T. Robinson
info@voicetalentguy.com
pave
Advanced Member
 
Posts: 1524
Joined: Tue May 23, 2006 11:22 am

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

Postby pave » Thu Jan 16, 2020 7:40 am

How Radio’s Creativity Got Suppressed

Some readers may remember when radio was equivocated with “theatre of the mind”. It wasn’t a particularly true equivalency, not at the time, but it was bandied about as if it were. Even today, some radio apologists, who know not of what they speak, trot that old nag out like it was tuning up for The Preakness.

A number of Stan Freeberg’s radio promos were touted as prime examples of radio swooping in and flying off with listeners’ imaginations. But, essentially, it was a full stop after those wonderful productions were making the rounds.

Perhaps the most famous of Freeberg’s contributions to radio creativity was his audio representation of a 750 foot mountain of whipped cream being dumped into a drained Lake Michigan that had been filled with hot chocolate. In due course, an RCAF aircraft towed a 10-ton maraschino cherry into place and dropped it into the whipped cream. The spot included a description and sound effects. It became the gold standard for radio creative. This was produced in 1964 and its influence, although laudable and noisy, was almost negligible at the time. Even that has waned since then.

Meanwhile, radio’s owners and managers took a not-so-surprising, but completely undisclosed and hidden set of decisions. They (correctly) concluded that the production of creative radio spots would take greater talent, more time and incur other significant expenses than the cookie-cutter slog which was being produced at the time – and continues to today.

The last four major market stations for which I toiled had between 4 and 6 full-time copywriters. They were there to continuously crank out multiple spots per day of the least possible creative kind, and on an ongoing basis. These were strictly meatball production departments. Any creative that actually got smuggled in was greeted with accolades and a bout of heavy, celebratory drinking an’ stuff.

Further, the provision of wet scrambled eggs and hard, over-cooked hash browns – the staples of every radio ad menu - was a necessity. The demand for such drek was fierce, and radio’s capacity to produce anything else was so completely gassed. Even then, radio had become a source of ads that were no more than newspaper-ads-of-the-air. As now, they were all content, price/product elements that included undisguised “calls to action” or demands for behaviours.

To be sure, from time to time, paltry efforts at some form of creativity are made by frustrated copywriters, or at the behest of some dissatisfied retailer. Unfortunately, they usually start with a somewhat promising creative premise that lasts maybe 10 seconds – tops - and then immediately lapse into the heavy content mode – completely destroying whatever creative idea was being attempted.

But, wait! There’s more!

Ownership and management, along with much of the on-air and copywriting staff actually do believe the form the spots have been taking over the decades actually do constitute effective advertising, and do work for the benefit of the advertisers.

They would be, at least, semi correct – according to the fact that radio has not disappeared into antiquity as a quaint, interesting but ultimately useless, used-up medium. Indeed, for many of radio’s participants, even these shameful cartloads of commercials are generating some modicum of advertiser results.

The key to all of this is in that radio has, primarily, an emotional access to listeners, whereas print accesses, primarily, the intellectual capacities of readers. This doesn’t stop print from also including emotional elements, either. Sometimes, photos of the product will prime an emotional response. Other times, a gorgeous model in high heels posing beside a can of motor oil or a heater gasket does the trick quite nicely.

Meanwhile, the applied necessity for radio commercials to be so up-to-date as to be running, practically, in real time, only serves to keep the copywriting squads in chains and churning out, essentially, make-work projects.

Finding new ways to say the same old thing becomes a tedious and thoroughly unsatisfying chore, as well, for writers and production talent. That’s how we become exposed to the likes of: “The partnership of Dr. Heggada Beggada and The Bob are here to serve you for all your proctology, storm door and window needs.”

So, when taken in total – the unwillingness of ownership to refuse to indulge in greater effort and costs, along with their insistence that the status quo is nifty enough - the prospects for radio’s leap into a brave, new and more prosperous future are slim, indeed.

However, leaving this piece on a downer note seems a little crass. After all, there are a number of steps that can be taken by radio to drastically improve the affect of radio on both listeners and advertisers. It can begin with a gradual but significant re-training of all those whose language gets to the air – announcers and writers. The strategies and methodologies I have often demonstrated will have a severe impact on the positive fortunes and effectiveness of these communicators. But, it is a top-down process. The puck, as they say, drops in front of the owners.

Please note: I am inviting reader comments be sent to my email address (below).

Ronald T. Robinson
info@voicetalentguy.com
pave
Advanced Member
 
Posts: 1524
Joined: Tue May 23, 2006 11:22 am

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

Postby pave » Thu Jan 16, 2020 7:40 am

How Radio’s Creativity Got Suppressed

Some readers may remember when radio was equivocated with “theatre of the mind”. It wasn’t a particularly true equivalency, not at the time, but it was bandied about as if it were. Even today, some radio apologists, who know not of what they speak, trot that old nag out like it was tuning up for The Preakness.

A number of Stan Freeberg’s radio promos were touted as prime examples of radio swooping in and flying off with listeners’ imaginations. But, essentially, it was a full stop after those wonderful productions were making the rounds.

Perhaps the most famous of Freeberg’s contributions to radio creativity was his audio representation of a 750 foot mountain of whipped cream being dumped into a drained Lake Michigan that had been filled with hot chocolate. In due course, an RCAF aircraft towed a 10-ton maraschino cherry into place and dropped it into the whipped cream. The spot included a description and sound effects. It became the gold standard for radio creative. This was produced in 1964 and its influence, although laudable and noisy, was almost negligible at the time. Even that has waned since then.

Meanwhile, radio’s owners and managers took a not-so-surprising, but completely undisclosed and hidden set of decisions. They (correctly) concluded that the production of creative radio spots would take greater talent, more time and incur other significant expenses than the cookie-cutter slog which was being produced at the time – and continues to today.

The last four major market stations for which I toiled had between 4 and 6 full-time copywriters. They were there to continuously crank out multiple spots per day of the least possible creative kind, and on an ongoing basis. These were strictly meatball production departments. Any creative that actually got smuggled in was greeted with accolades and a bout of heavy, celebratory drinking an’ stuff.

Further, the provision of wet scrambled eggs and hard, over-cooked hash browns – the staples of every radio ad menu - was a necessity. The demand for such drek was fierce, and radio’s capacity to produce anything else was so completely gassed. Even then, radio had become a source of ads that were no more than newspaper-ads-of-the-air. As now, they were all content, price/product elements that included undisguised “calls to action” or demands for behaviours.

To be sure, from time to time, paltry efforts at some form of creativity are made by frustrated copywriters, or at the behest of some dissatisfied retailer. Unfortunately, they usually start with a somewhat promising creative premise that lasts maybe 10 seconds – tops - and then immediately lapse into the heavy content mode – completely destroying whatever creative idea was being attempted.

But, wait! There’s more!

Ownership and management, along with much of the on-air and copywriting staff actually do believe the form the spots have been taking over the decades actually do constitute effective advertising, and do work for the benefit of the advertisers.

They would be, at least, semi correct – according to the fact that radio has not disappeared into antiquity as a quaint, interesting but ultimately useless, used-up medium. Indeed, for many of radio’s participants, even these shameful cartloads of commercials are generating some modicum of advertiser results.

The key to all of this is in that radio has, primarily, an emotional access to listeners, whereas print accesses, primarily, the intellectual capacities of readers. This doesn’t stop print from also including emotional elements, either. Sometimes, photos of the product will prime an emotional response. Other times, a gorgeous model in high heels posing beside a can of motor oil or a heater gasket does the trick quite nicely.

Meanwhile, the applied necessity for radio commercials to be so up-to-date as to be running, practically, in real time, only serves to keep the copywriting squads in chains and churning out, essentially, make-work projects.

Finding new ways to say the same old thing becomes a tedious and thoroughly unsatisfying chore, as well, for writers and production talent. That’s how we become exposed to the likes of: “The partnership of Dr. Heggada Beggada and The Bob are here to serve you for all your proctology, storm door and window needs.”

So, when taken in total – the unwillingness of ownership to refuse to indulge in greater effort and costs, along with their insistence that the status quo is nifty enough - the prospects for radio’s leap into a brave, new and more prosperous future are slim, indeed.

However, leaving this piece on a downer note seems a little crass. After all, there are a number of steps that can be taken by radio to drastically improve the affect of radio on both listeners and advertisers. It can begin with a gradual but significant re-training of all those whose language gets to the air – announcers and writers. The strategies and methodologies I have often demonstrated will have a severe impact on the positive fortunes and effectiveness of these communicators. But, it is a top-down process. The puck, as they say, drops in front of the owners.

Please note: I am inviting reader comments be sent to my email address (below).

Ronald T. Robinson
info@voicetalentguy.com
pave
Advanced Member
 
Posts: 1524
Joined: Tue May 23, 2006 11:22 am

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