|09||| 01 |||04|
I Hear Dead People
I've been reading more and more discussions on the net regarding the nationalization of radio (and of our society in general). I read about how people had the same fears 100 years ago. The difference is that, in this day and age, we have the tools to completely wipe out uniqueness. Years ago they'd try to copy. Today we clone. There is a difference.
There's only one way to fight this gentrification of our media and our culture really... We must build something unique, special, and superior. "The best mix of the 80's 90's and today" is not special, nor unique, nor superior in any way. It's a non-customizable jukebox. Who cares.
Radio people do - and that is sad. Radio people care about formats more than entertainment. They care more about music than people.
If I were to ask you to tell me what you do for a living - breaking it down to the very most basic aspect of what you do - what would you say? Think about it from a standpoint even more simplistic than the type of media you work in.
You entertain people.
Think about that.
Are you an air talent? Before walking into the air studio for your next shift, ask yourself: "Who am I supposed to be entertaining, and what do I have planned that's so entertaining?"
Are you a music director? Before printing out that log, ask yourself: "Who am I supposed to be entertaining with these songs, and are these really the most entertaining choices?"
Are you a program director? Ask yourself: "What makes my radio station the best form of entertainment for the audience I'm trying to build [or maintain]?" If the word 'music' is in your answer, odds are you're an idiot.
To be honest, I don't understand most radio people at all.
We talk of the importance of local while making our stations sound more and more national. The production is slicker, the rotations tighter, but the sound emerging from the speakers sounds increasingly faceless - or worse - disingenuous.
We talk about knowing our audience, and yet, we hear air talent on female stations calling their callers "honey," "baby," or other demeaning nicknames. I'm left to wonder which is worse: the jock not knowing he's a pig, or the program director not realizing his air talent is a pig. It's a conundrum.
There's so little about radio stations that is special anymore. And we're doing nothing to change that. In fact, we're becoming more distant than ever. Here's a perfect example: Contests have bigger and bigger prizes, giving a listener less and less chance of ever winning them. And this is entertaining because...?
It's time to turn off the jukebox and replace it with a club - a social group.
When I was in college, I was the guy who brought the music to a party. It was a given. Steph was the hostess... She would invite everybody and keep things lively, whether she was introducing people [potential hook-ups] or initiating the drinking games. Eric & Joe brought the beer. It was understood. Tina had a camera and access to a dark room. She'd tape pictures on her door within a day or two - often to our dismay. This too was understood.
A radio station could be an amazing social group. Why has not one radio station in America capitalized on the success of Friendster? Why has not one radio station in America really capitalized on the popularity of blogging? Why aren't radio stations setting up singles groups or amateur sports leagues? Oh sure, one or two are, kind of. Set up something silly like a putt-putt death-match. Get involved with Habitat For Humanity and find a way to turn it into some sort of Trading Spaces. People are searching for ways to come together. Match.com has so many impersonators. Message boarding is everywhere [craigslist.org is among the best] Meetin.org is proof that people will get involved when they're given a way to do so.
Meanwhile - as if stranded in an alternate universe - radio is becoming increasingly irrelevant. I turn it on, and I hear dead people. Ghosts of what once was, as if life has been sucked out of them. And there's little change, if any, on the horizon.
The question is 'why?'