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(TALENT) The Influencers

2-11-2013

There is this lousy rumor being floated around the halls of music radio companies that we are engaged in Show Business. We are also being accused, if not indicted, on charges we participate in the Advertising Business, as well. While we do not know who is responsible for these slanderous accusations, we deny both categorically. There is little evidence to support either allegation.

I have yet to hear, never mind entertain, any arguments contradicting, the idea that, for the most part, music radios contributions to the worlds of show business and advertising are the weakest and most shabby of any of the  professional media. Thats not quite what I had in mind as I was growing up in radio to be tagged as on the side of ineffective and perennial losers.

Radio, unlike pro sports, does not have a delusional (fanatic) fan base where blind enthusiasm and delirious hope spring eternal for a few weeks at the beginning of each season. No. Ours is more the experience of being met with indifference by audiences and advertisers. We even beg audiences to like us. I must confess that I wonder if, to be a complacent participant in radio, one must relinquish one's capacities for critical thinking.

There is little doubt that our understanding of the necessity of being engaged in Show Business has been drained off our brains like an offensive, noxious bog. Our distasteful acceptance that the Ad Business content we are producing has also been devoid of the elements of Show Business seems, likewise, to have been lost.

Ours has become an enterprise where these elements have not only become endangered, they have become factors that are being considered with disdain and are continuously being targeted for elimination. Meanwhile, those remaining radio practitioners who have not already been burned down are being starved out.

Although requiring a two-pronged approach, the first, I suggest, needs to be to that consisting of the Ad Business elements. All stations have audiences some greater than others. Programming is the determining factor. Fine. All right. Maybe programming can be addressed as an adjunct-to. The same dynamics apply anyway. Still, the commercial content produced locally for advertisers participating with this or that station must be substantially improved. Advertisers not only deserve, they require an immediate and significant increase in the efficacy of the spots (supposedly) generated for their benefit.

There are fewer copywriters than ever toiling in radio today who majored in quantum physics and literature, and who are still available to get back to typing the hype at their local stations. Somehow, For the best deals in town on all your storm-door and surgical-supply needs, its Chucks Storm Door and Surgical Supplies Warehouse. Shop today 'cause when the deals are gone theyre gone wont be acceptable to the enterprise any longer. Employing engaging new writers and re-training the existing copy-corps would be the priority.

Now, I do appreciate how the major conglomerates are morbidly restricted to their own forms of central planning. But, thats the nature of their beasts and they are the ones who adopted them and husband them along. Maybe those organizations have some sharp folks who have already made some of these serious distinctions. But, history demonstrates how the fear of the gulags has kept the traps of more than a few of the otherwise loyal proletariat tightly shut.

There is, however, an escape hatch of opportunity here for smaller organizations and stand-alone operators. The opportunity lies in being able to generate much better commercial content for their advertisers. I can only imagine a stations sales rep taking the following story to the street: We arent even close to being number one, but our advertisers are getting terrific results. Wanna buy some spots? (Im not suggesting all the reps will be getting uber-sophisticated overnight.)

Momentarily, we might consider ourselves instead of show business or the advertising business as being in the Influence Business. Thats right we could be influence peddlers! We could consider gearing up with material that is more entertaining, emotionally charged, less demanding, less assuming, less aggravating, more listenable and, in that process, more influential. This is doable. It means re-tooling by re-training, after a period of re-consideration of the benefits.

The 19th century wordsmith, Edgar Allan Poe, tells a macabre tale of the ill-named Fortunato who was shackled and walled up in the darkest recesses of a cellar crypt belonging to his vengeance-bent enemy Montresor. Stone upon stone was mortared into place as Fortunato slowly but inevitably came to grips with his fate: he was to slowly meet his cold and terrifying demise without food, drink, light or mercy. That story has influence!

An argument could be made that music radio has been shackling itself; walling itself in with the stones and mortar it has carted to its own locations. Another irony for radio is that, this time, we havent had to outsource anything. We are doing this to ourselves, all by ourselves. We have become both Fortunato and Montresor. Is it possible we just dont care for ourselves that much!? The piles of bleached bones cluttering our spaces are testament enough that the area will go undisturbed for a very long time. There will be no wakes or any other celebrations either. The Cask of Amontillado behind the wall shall remain unopened. Indeed, it is time to Take down that wall!

Ronald T. Robinson has been involved in Canadian Radio since the '60s as a performer, writer and coach and has trained and certified as a personal counselor. Ron makes the assertion that the most important communicative aspects of broadcasting, as they relate to Talent and Creative, have yet to be addressed. Check out his website www.voicetalentguy.com




(3/28/2013 3:21:48 AM)
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- NY
(2/11/2013 9:49:41 PM)
Nah. Joyce was expert, had readers and got paid. Plus, he was enviably more prolific and, possibly, a superior drinker.
I got into radio. My credibility is under challenge at all times. I offer critiques and alternatives to an audience that suffers from hubris, arrogance and indifference and I'm a cheap date.
To put it more succinctly: The hours and working conditions are bad, but the money sucks.

- Ronald T. Robinson
(2/11/2013 7:15:44 PM)
Apparently James Joyce is alive, well, and blogging.

- Steve

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