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that I wanted to be in a position to have a good portion left over to take to the marketplace - offering hitherto unpublished, whiz-bang information and principles.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

Postby pave » Sun Sep 20, 2020 1:24 pm

Are We Sick Or Something?

I do admit, from time to time, that I wonder how it is that I, apparently, am the only radio guy that is out here in the hinterlands squawking bile and gibberish about radio’s utter lack of communications acumen.

That I hardly ever get any stalwart or lettered rebuffs of the principles, techniques and methodologies I have been promoting for so many years suggests that I am working under some delusions, and that radio people would rather not engage me in any meaningful discourse.

Either that or radio’s participants, particularly ownership and management, are completely indifferent to the processes I have been putting forward. I have a suspicion the latter is more in play.

Our failures to address the communicative aspects of our business, although subtle, are actually quite apparent and obvious. Plus, there is a colossal arrogance being bandied about in that the abject banality of our presentations is generating no particular audience or advertiser enthusiasms. The situation is hardly raising any hackles, either.

To listen to any typical commercial music-radio broadcast is to be regaled with the most maudlin, banal and insulting forms of communication being foisted on an, otherwise, unsuspecting audience. These are, quite frankly, examples of inanities being produced by dullards for dullards – hardly a position to take for anyone wishing to improve their appeal or increase their affects.

At the risk of attempting to seem not so terribly harsh to the performers, they are to be forgiven for participating in a system of communicating about which they have no knowledge and therefore, no reason to question or challenge. Maintaining the status quo, however, has no benefits – not for the performers, the audiences or the advertisers.

So benign and anemic is radio that other media, electronic or otherwise, hardly even bother to come after the medium with counter opportunities. (Why bother to bash radio when radio is doing a stellar job of anyway.) Radio, to the competition, is a sleeping dog that is best left alone – snoozing away its future.

I also wonder about the irony contained in the behaviours of radio’s cutting, chopping and gouging of its talent-base. Besides all the internal angst and squabbling, hardly anybody else seems to notice – or care.

A further irony is that there have been alternate forms of communicating available that would drastically improve the lot of radio. Plus, it’s not as if other alternatives are being prepared on the back burner – ready to be sprung on the markets when it is time to break the glass.

This hardly bodes well for the future of radio as the internally generated collapse of the products and services rendered by radio have got to the point where there may not be much available or worthy of saving.

Perhaps renovations of existing radio organisations are highly unlikely. Rather, it may be up to new or possibly miraculously redeemed outfits to start all over – from scratch. That would be the more time-consuming and expensive strategy, But, it also may be the only remaining approach – a dangerous leap-of-faith - a “Geronimo” event.

Although, like the lack of awareness of a slowly metastasizing tumour, radio may remain ignorant of its malady and simply carry on with the same-ol’-same-ol’ until the prognosis becomes critical and, possibly, fatal. Is it possible we really are that sick?

Now, I do appreciate that most of radio’s participants carry on as if there were no threats to its broadcasting and business models – just glitches brought on by the Covid-thingy. However, radio has been experiencing the gradual demise of its productivity and appeal to audiences and advertisers well before any virus abetted any strike downs of much of the industry.

As a reminder, I reiterate again: Every time a presenter, in attempting to contact a listener personally, specifically and applies the word “you”, listeners are forced to realize it is not they who are being reached. They (unconsciously) become frustrated - and an Australian budgie dies.

This admonition is the toughest one with which performers have the most trouble with comprehending, digesting and assimilating. It goes against everything we were ever taught as on-air presenters. Further, it is also counter-intuitive. It just doesn’t seem to fit. However, when the second person (you) is replaced with the third person (anything else) - everything gets to be just Jake.

Again, I repeat: None of these troubles and tribulations were necessary.

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 » Sat Sep 26, 2020 1:49 pm

Goin’ Down To The Crossroads

“It can’t happen here and it can’t happen to us.” This has been the pitiful wail of so many of radio’s movers and shakers for way too long. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, radio continues down the road of self-immolation – rendering itself as an afterthought amongst other electronic media.

That radio’s owners and managers are operating under this tragically false belief is obvious to astute observers festooned across the territories. Eliminating the essential services that, historically, gave radio a solid position in the media landscape can have no other affect.

When a flock of beavers are constantly peeing in a somewhat small and closed water system, the result is: Beaver Fever. In other words: When radio continuously soils its own environment – something’s gotta give. And what gives is the credibility that radio used to enjoy.

We used to say, “There are no secrets in radio. It all comes out of the box.” And what is coming out of the box for almost all commercial, music-radio outfits has the consistency and taste of pablum. Pancake batter is more robust. Plus, pancake batter does have some potential. Pablum, however, is what it is and gets no feedback from the ingestor. Babies get it until they have obtained the maturity to reject it and proclaim, “Give me meat, gawdammit!”

Much Radio’s audiences and many of its advertisers have yet to reach such a position. Those that remain take what’s on the menu and, if not enjoying, are nevertheless tolerating it. But, just barely. Further, charity blitzes and juvenile, outside promotions are hardly moving the needle of listener loyalty – as if that had anything to do with the on-air product.

We (radio-people) are about to reach a crossroads. It might also be an abyss. We can hope it is a crossroads. That way, we can engage in a Faustian deal and, for the low, low price of our very souls, get the Devil to return us to the Glory Days of fable and lore. That might be highly unlikely, though, as The Devil seems to have been dealing, mostly, with bluesmen – and lawyers. Plus, The Dark One seems to have a favourite location: the crossroads at the junction of highways 61 and 322N in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Not a lot of availability in the line for Canadian radio there. We might, actually, be on our own.

It’s not as if radio doesn’t have the Rx to cure its own maladies, either. No prescription is required – it’s an over-the-counter cure. We are obliged to improve – and drastically so – the communicative aspects of our business. That would include: Everything.

Improving the knowledge and skills of everyone that slaves over a hot microphone or that types the hype as copywriters are essential elements. These are required elements for there to be any forward movement in the position of radio as an exciting and viable entertainment, informational and advertising medium to take place.

It begins with an understanding of the reality that radio is not a direct medium. Rather, it is an indirect medium where the standard-issue rules of on-air communication get trashed. Only this realisation allows for a new indirect reality. I repeat: We are not doing one-to-one. We are doing one-on-unknown-and-unspecified.

While almost every radio participant will dig in and insist that radio is, indeed, a direct medium, more compelling and reasonable evidence suggests, and dare I say, demonstrates the contrary.

As has been said before: People and the organizations they create tend to find out what doesn’t work – and then, do it harder. Another way of putting that might be: When yelling doesn’t get the desired response – yell louder.
When radio loses its appeal and credibility by communicatively disemboweling the talent-base, it guts it even more. And then it eliminates even the potential for improvement by blowing out even more members of the on-air and creative stable. And, by cracky, there’s a lesson for us all.

We really don’t have a lot of time left for navel-gazing, and maintaining the status quo of fewer local presenters, more voice-tracking and syndicated programming comes with extreme danger. Add to that the veritable extinction of skilled copywriters and we can expect no other result than that we have been experiencing.

Goin’ down to the crossroads, while an attractive and romantic notion, is hardly a legitimate option for reestablishing radio as an enjoyable and competitive medium. Besides, we already gots de right to sing de blues.

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 » Sun Oct 04, 2020 3:03 am

Yule Is So Cule

Mike McVay, infamous poo-bah, formerly with Cumulus, has been promoting the essentials for any station to go All Christmas. He does so with sincerity and, seemingly - a straight face, as well. He also argues that going All Yule isn’t really a format change – it’s a programming “tactic”.

Talk about weasel words! I mean, even though the guy is famous for weasel words – confounding his former staff at every turn and frustrating the troops to no end, I’m going to argue that going All Xmas is an obvious and profound change in format.

Not only is flipping to All Kringle a format change, it is an insult to audiences that have been loyal to the original format, Further, it is an abject admission that the original format – in the twinkling of an eye – has become less than desirable, but only for those intolerable two months that John Lennon’s “War Is Over/So This Is Christmas” once again rockets to the top of the pops. The flip is a cop to what is, now, a tradition, and a bailout for the unimaginative. (“But there’s a buck in it, Ronnie.” I get that – sorta.)

The only distinctions in running the format are in those stations that provide mostly secular tunes and those that dive in to be appealing to the Jesus-crowd. Another distinction is about those stations that highlight the olden, golden goodies and those that include more contemporary selections. Now, I do admit there are many listeners who fall all over themselves and ooze gratitude for the wonderful “seasonal” songs. They are delighted. They are also, at least momentarily, deluded. But, as we all know: Sometimes radio audiences can be tricked.

Indeed, without batting a bleary or jaundiced eye, stations will reject their audiences without so much as a backward look and presume that the audience will be back like so many trained poodles to the station when the onslaught of “holiday tunes” packs up and gets put away with the decorations the day after Boxing Day.

Meanwhile, during this ever-expanding time frame of assaulting the audience, the Talent is compelled to become even more maudlin and milquetoast than when running the standard format. The already-induced members of the Jesus-squad take that as their cue to become downright proselytizers – some more than others. But the more secular members of the talent-base are smart enough to avoid putting up any objections or raising any eyebrows.

The presupposition that audiences will come crawling back to the old format from the same station has to be a mug’s game. There are no assurances that this will be the case. To be sure, audience members that have difficulty with the All Christmas format are literally forced to try on some other stations, perhaps even other formats.

McVay urges stations to hold off on the more religious cuts until the week before Christmas. He may have something there. Although it may seem otherwise, there are fewer zealots out here than at any time in our history. This is the case even though the ruckus they can raise might lead the less informed to believe something else. Otherwise, sticking to the sleigh bells sfx might be just enough to keep the folks onboard.

Mike also offers the contention that “during these difficult times”, a switch to a Super Santa Blitz or a religious, musical bashing might prove to be soothing and somewhat compensatory – given the contentious, dangerous and immobilizing experiences we are all forced to endure.

But, this piece is mostly about the stations that are so mealy-minded that they are more than willing – sometimes eager – to jump on the Christmas parade float and ride it all the way to December 26th.

The irony is in that, a couple of days after The Biggest Birthday Party Of All, they will heartily jump back on the hay wagon of “Playing The Greatest Hits Of All Time”. And they will do so without any navel-gazing and without any embarrassment. They will not spend two minute in the box because they will not feel shame. But, in undertaking this cynical process, they do lose whatever credibility they may have been able to muster up during the rest of the year.

Now, maybe I’m the wrong guy for this but, I do wonder: Is it too early to wish everyone a Feliz Navidad?

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 » Tue Oct 13, 2020 4:21 pm

A Continuing Crusade

While the owners and management of commercial music-radio continue to rampage through the halls, abusing the staff and busting up the furniture, whiz-bang entrepreneurs continue to generate fortunes by developing other whiz-bang, electronic platforms.

They simply can’t help themselves. They take a position of: What’s going on now? Where can we improve on that, and what are some of the holes and gaps we can fill? On surface anyway, it all sounds so simple.

There is, however, none of that in radio. Radio, and it got started some time ago, has been operating under the premise of – how shall I put it: “We’ve already got it aced, Ace. But, thanks for comin’ out.”

Radio has been back-pedaling for so long it’s a surprise that nobody has said, “We do all this marching and yet the object of our crusade just keeps getting farther away. Some of us don’t even know what the original goal was in the first place.”

I sometimes wake in the morning expecting to turn on one of my local stations and discover A Brave New World coming out of the speakers featuring motivated and articulate communicators wandering around in my mind. They will also be influencing me by applying interesting and sophisticated communicative techniques while plying me with equally interesting and appealing commercials that will send me scurrying down to their advertisers’ places of business to take advantage of the “deals, deals, deals.”

This all takes place between my eyes cracking open and my indulging myself with morning coffees and a couple of smokes. By then, I have reintroduced a bit of a buzz and an occasional hacking to my otherwise regular morning regimen. And the world defaults to normal – sometimes referred to as “the same ol’-same ol’.”

Time, as has been said, is marching on and I, as I have noticed, am not getting any younger. With each passing year, I must admit that I do find it tougher to carry the lance and shield that all crusaders are obliged to tote around. My armour is a little rusty and does creak in the dark, I am grateful for WD-40.

Then there is the nag that needs to be watered and fed. Besides, I fear old Dobbin may have already got hip to the fact that I have been feeding him on Kibbles & Bits. (His horse buns, though, do seem to still have a healthy, steaming freshness about them – if one doesn’t get too close.)

I can’t help but be reminded of how we used frozen horse buns in the winter instead of pucks for road hockey games. In the Spring, however, it was a little tougher to recruit a goalie.

That station owners and managers have always ignored or, more often than not, denied the existence of any other principles, techniques and methodologies for improving the language component of what we do for a living, has always been a mystery of the worst class for me.

After all, the delivery of the language is the only element we provide on the radio over which we have exclusive control, And that’s the part we have let slide – without exception. Excuses , rationalizations and justifications for these behaviours have not been forthcoming. There’s nothing in play, so there’s nothing to say.

When I was running my own clandestine Skunk Works on the materials to which I have been referring, I was getting spectacular results – with on-sir numbers (boxcars) and with advertisers’ results on spots that ran on our station, Agencies would buy afternoon drive and avoid the rest of the dayparts. (If I’m lyin’, may gawd strike another PD down.)

But hark. The plug is rested and I shall, once again, mount up, take up my lance and shield – and continue the struggle.

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: 1564
Joined: Tue May 23, 2006 12:22 pm

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

Postby pave » Mon Oct 19, 2020 8:36 am

No More Cracks To Crawl Through

Radio’s owners and managers are scrambling to find loopholes, bailout opportunities and cracks through which they can crawl – anything to save their enterprises from a threatening oblivion that don’t include re-training and reinvestment.

But, sorry to report, those opportunities are long gone and those horses have, long ago, been stampeded out of the corals. Practically, there are no more pounds of excess weight to shed. All the so-called fat has been cut and radio is exercising its right to cut itself to bare bones, again in order to avoid self-examination, acquiring of new knowledge and the spending of any dough whatsoever in order to regain its footing and to continue the march.

Radio has been ground to a halt and has remained in a state of immobility for quite some time – decades, if the truth be told. A number of pundits and interested parties have gone so far as to state that radio has been going backwards. I would be one of those.

Radio is now in the business of providing fewer services, and services of less quality than at any time in its past. So pervasive are these practices and that they have been applied for so long, it could be speculated that a majority of owners and managers are mostly unaware of any actual differences in the model of broadcasting as they are experiencing it right now.

As many of us have been taught at the knees of former learned PD’s and managers – ignorance is not bliss, although it can be blissful. That noise they hear is not a tuck truck lumbering towards us loaded with fast food goodies, but rather an A-10 Warthog loaded with a GAU-8/A 30mm auto cannon, rolling in for a strafing run. One of the next things we hear will be the “zipper” sound of the Gatling gun spewing 3900 rounds per minute. But, by that time, all the shells will have arrived and the sfx will have been rendered superfluous and redundant.

One need only cast an incredulous glance at the overall state of the U.S.A. to appreciate our general capacity for self-delusion and self-destruction. It doesn’t seem to take much for us to turn our attention to generating behaviours that are contrary to our own best interests. Don’t believe me. It’s in all the papers.

Why then, would radio be exempt from any of that? We are, after all, taking a perfectly viable and thoroughly accessible medium and blasting it into little bits. We aren’t even doing it clandestinely. We are, right out here in the open, blowing ourselves up – “real good”.

Tunes are terrific – even though much of the library never makes it to air. But all that only demonstrates we have become no more than a streaming service – with spots. Too many phusterclucked commercials that are suffering from gawdawful poor quality anyway are continuously being foisted on a curiously unsuspecting but more suspiciously frustrated audience.

It is, consistent with our propensity to underwrite or otherwise gut ourselves, the practice of music-radio to, not only slash the spoken word out of our programming, but to allow incompetent (uneducated and untrained) presenters to deliver what little is left and is allowed on the radio.

It is more than enough to be an astounded observer of the demise of contemporary radio. I can’t imagine my frustration were I to also be an active participating member of a station’s staff. The desire to do crime might be overwhelming. I would just as soon avoid pleading before the judge: “But, Your Honour, they needed a good stomping!”

I repeat again: The spoken word is all we have left. As an exclusive source of music we are left extremely wanting. That radio is still somewhat of a convenient medium is no cause for celebration – not on our part. That, so far, comes with the territory.

What we desperately do need are far more educated presenters, more of them and providing them with opportunities to communicate more often. We are not mice that can squeeze themselves into ever-tightening spaces. Plus, there are no other cracks through which we can crawl.

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

Ronald T. Robinson
info@voicetalentguy.com
pave
Advanced Member
 
Posts: 1564
Joined: Tue May 23, 2006 12:22 pm

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