Tuesday, February 26, 2008

"Radio Nowhere" -- Who's listening?

In "Radio Nowhere," the essay we posted yesterday, John Amos articulated the disenchantment he felt listening to the radio. And if you think he's alone, here's a little Internet mashup, placing excerpts from his essay alongside the posted thoughts of broadcast professionals.

Stations try to grab listeners with fizzy promises (“more music, less talk”) and catchy slogans... - John Amos
No one cares about your station or what you do. What they care about is how you make them feel about themselves and their decisions while in your presence. Do you make them feel special, in the know, smart, etc? Whatever it is, ask how you are making people feel while tuning you in or wearing your logo. - Tom Asacker
What’s missing, of course, is any sort of community connection... pre-packaged shows, produced in nameless places, are no substitute for the real, live thing. - John Amos
Programming went from local to homogenous. Making things worse was a decade in which the radio industry failed to program for youth. Bad timing, because it was at this same time that youth were looking for programs they could relate to. Youth still want to know what's happening locally. If radio won't tell them, they have this thing called the internet. And, boy, have they turned to it. - Ken Dardis
So the question is what can be done to save radio.

Get into the local content business. I’d start a website with music, social networks, artist interviews and other embellishments for every college and high school in your terrestrial listening area. Radio folks would do it the other way – one website for all local colleges. Radio works best when it is local. The Internet is your friend. It enables you to reach out to markets that may not ever listen to your terrestrial stations. After that expand by interest or social group. Impossible? Costly? It’s being done all the time in the Internet world by young entrepreneurs on what even today's radio would consider chump change. - Jerry Del Colliano
At issue is how radio companies transform their models from spot-sellers into marketing workhorses with communication assets built around individuals with faces and names rather than anonymous tallies of ears. - Mark Ramsey

In fact, not that long ago radio was a vibrant part of this community.... These folks took their work seriously, and they put out a product that people wanted, maybe even needed, to hear. - John Amos

Generally, listeners like the idea of live and local DJs. 77% said they preferred to have DJs who live in and are a part of their own community and 74% said DJs should be live, not recorded. - Mark Ramsey
Don't even think about more voice tracking -- it will only save money and never attract listeners -- not even if you paid a person carrying a People Meter to stand in front of a radio blaring your station 24/7. - Jerry Del Colliano
Real people, real entertainment, and real information.

Radio, far more than television, relies on an audience’s imagination. Without pictures, it has only words, voice, and human warmth to reach listeners. This requires a person at the other end of the microphone, not a recording. - John Amos
"TV gives everyone an image, but Radio gives birth to a million images in a million brains" - Peggy Noonan

What would a steak be without its sizzle? Radio is the security blanket of the ear. We flip a switch, we laugh, we scream, we sing along. We remember our youth, connect with our community, share our opinions, soothe our pains, calm our fears. Through the radio, our imagination unfolds, we dress for the weather, drive for the traffic, cheer for the team, take comfort when the world is safe and hold our neighbor's hand when it is not. - Mark Ramsey
[Radio] will only survive by cultivating the human connection. - John Amos
When you take out (or never put in) the personality, when you lack the voices that connect us to the music and each other, when there is no promotion, no news, no traffic, no weather, no contesting, no feeling that what you're hearing is in any sense "live" or, for that matter even "living," is that really "radio"?

Is that what we want "radio" to be?

Is that what the audience comes to us for? - Mark Ramsey

Commercial broadcasters won't listen to the professionals. Will they listen to the listener?

- Ralph

Bonus question: Something that the radio industry trumpets as its savior are significantly absent from John Amos' essay. Do
you know what it is? Look for the answer in tomorrow's post.

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