What's It Going To Take...?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Visigoths Are Approaching

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Postby pave » Wed Apr 28, 2021 12:21 pm

Scourge Of The Pundits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please note: I am inviting reader comments to be sent to my email address (below).
Ronald T. Robinson
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Joined: Tue May 23, 2006 12:22 pm


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