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ALocal And A Yacht
Local is not what makes a radio station win.
We've seen it time and time again where a national show causes a local guy to get the boot, and the national show wins.
Bird attacks man. Bird wins.
But we've also seen bird attack man and end up being turned into a poor-man's chicken macnuggets.
Local isn't what makes something better.
Better makes something better.
...More bizarre maybe?
...More worth a listener's time, as judged by the listener.
Local is a tool for connecting in a personal way. Local is going on a first date with a woman and finding out you're both from the same small town. You've got a shared point of reference. In many ways, you've got a shared language. You can rattle off names and places and quirky stories that only mean something to her.
But let's say that a few days after your first date with her, she goes on a first date with someone else. Someone equally funny, witty, knowledgeable and charming. You're good looking, he's good looking... it's pretty much a draw.
Let's say she'd set up the date with the other guy before she even met you, and she felt like she owed it to him to go even though she was planning on seeing you again.
She has two first dates with two somewhat similar men.
On your date, the two of you meet for a quick chat over a glass of wine. Sounds kind of nice, eh? The other guy takes her sailing on his yacht. At one point, he hands her the wheel (is there a nautical term for that thing? I should google it)...
...he hands her the wheel, standing behind with his hands on her hips while teaching her to steer the yacht across the bay.
You gettin' a second date?
I. Don't. Think. So.
"But I was local!!!!"
Uh-huh... and her date with Mr. Yacht is something she'll remember for the rest of her life.
Now, let's turn the tables. Let's say she met the other guy for a quick chat over a glass of wine, and this time YOU are the one with the yacht. And you're from her home town too. You're taking her sailing, and while she's got her hands on the wheel and yours are on her hips, you teach her to steer the boat across the bay while you steer the conversation to the home town you're both from. The date is amazing AND you both have that same local point of reference which makes getting to know each other easy.
In other words: you win - and then some.
In other words: local is a tool.
What makes being live and local so important these days is that radio is littered with B and C level air talent. We've got jocks who give the amble ramble up an intro while saying nothing. They're instantly forgettable. These people need every tool in the toolbox!
Worse, however, are the B and C talent programmers, creative services directors and promotions directors who somehow missed the culture shift of the last five years. The're still trying to "own artists" on their silly stations while believing in ridiculous things like the T-Bog.
Do you know what the T-Bog is? It's an ignorant acronym that stands for:
"Tight, Bright, On & Gone."
Excuse me? Hey Mr. T-Bog... last time I checked, your date was with Mr. Yacht sailing across the bay. He'll be making love to her while you're all alone with Little T-Bog, knowwhatimean?
I simply cannot fathom the idea that a programmer thinks his air staff can earn their way into hearts and minds by being audio wallpaper.
I heard the following break on a night show in a large market a few months ago... the jock rattled off a list of items and said "so call me up and let me know what you want to talk about."
What the hell?
B and C level talent. In fact, radio has decayed to the point where I bet many so-called radio people will read the above example and not understand what the problem was. I listened to that show for an hour just to see what would happen.
There were no calls.
And the jock probably had no idea why.
And the PD obviously wasn't teaching the jock.
It didn't matter if the jock was national or local. He had nothing to say. Meanwhile, across the dial, some national jock with a yacht was entertaining the hell out people.
On the other hand, there are plenty of national shows that are just plain boring... shows that are ready to be wiped off the local dial by some local jock with a yacht.
Local is a tool that can help B and C level talent to connect, and it helps A level talent to thrive. But plenty of national winners have proven it isn't a necessity.
It's a tool. One of many.
Where are radio's showmen!!?
Where are radio's entertainers!!?
Hell, for that matter, where are radio's ringmasters!!?
Radio today is like going to a circus without a ringmaster, where the animals are shown on big flat-panel monitors instead of actually being in the ring. Meanwhile, across the parking lot sits a performance of Circ du Soleil. There aren't any elephants at Circ du Soleil. No lions. No tigers. But it's a show of shows, and it's sold out every night. It damn well is competition.
Doctor! Get me a god damn ringmaster! Stat!
Oh, and if the ringmaster could be a local guy, the show will be that much more fun.
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(P.S. On second thought, The circus is a bad metaphor. In fact, F the circus. How dare anyone abuse animals)