Monday, August 2, 2010

By Request

I've been on the fringes of radio for a couple of years now. I'm not involved in the day to day affairs, meetings are rare, and when my day is done, my day is done. I like it this way, only because I've been on the inside and know what it looks like. Picture a rotten egg stuffed inside of an old shoe that's hanging inside of a dirty jock strap (one word?) that's been festering inside of a locker room after an overtime tilt in the South Florida heat. Then go sit and have a meeting inside of it for two hours. That's what I'm missing. Better said, that's what I'm not missing.

It's almost bizarrely admirable that radio continues to make decisions on a yearly-monthly-weekly-daily basis that prevent it from being successful. Not having time to go into them all (because according to what the average lifespan for an American non-smoking male is, I'll be dead in 34 years), I'll just mention the obvious. Commercial radio has killed the personality which made it profitable, unique and worth listening. For every good personality who's shown the door in a cost-cutting move, five come in that have a) no experience, b) are related to the owner, or- worst of all- c) sales people who "think it would be really cool" to be a jock. All too often management thinks that the dolts who have only mastered the task of dialing a radio station's request line typify the average listener. This has cost ratings points and revenue. Listeners are smarter than management gives them credit for, and they're proving it by leaving commercial radio in droves.

It's hard to think of one thing radio does better than it used to? Entertain? No. Personalities are dying off, both figuratively and literally (that's for you, Mr. Harvey). Services? C'mon. Traffic reports are something that can keep people listening as they head for work, so what does one cluster do? Cuts the number of reports in half. Yep. Take a valuable service THAT MAKES MONEY and cut it in half. Remember, these are radio management people making these decisions. These days, when I say "radio management" I mean, "salespeople". These are the ones that are running radio right into the ground.

Upon further review, I guess there's one thing that radio excels in. Interrupting their product. Playing spots. Commercials. Inventory (that's the industry term). Stations I work with have up to 20 units in morning drive. Some are :60, some :30, some :15. It doesn't matter to the listener. They don't say, "oh that one was quick". They hear one spot bleed into another, and hit another station that might be playing a song. Or (me), they play their iPod or CD, guaranteeing a song they like. What's worse than waiting through a seven minute break only to have the radio station come back with "Baby, I Love Your Way" by Peter Frampton? Imagine if someone's idea for a station was to say, "it'll be like an iPod, only with lengthy commercial breaks". He'd be laughed out of the room. Wait. No he wouldn't. He'd probably be promoted.

He was pitching radio management, after all.

1 comment:

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