Radio’s Most Important Unanswered Question


(By Ronald Robinson) I am obliged to accept the possibility that I simply may not have the faculties to process some forms of information. There is the assertion from so many in the population that dinosaurs wore saddles! That qualifies as a prime example of material that, if I were to seriously consider it for more than a few moments, I would certainly be reducing my brain to mush.

There are those in the highest echelons of radio ownership and management who not only believe that consolidation was a good thing, but that even more consolidation would be better! This is cause to put out an immediate and urgent “Brain Mooshing Alert.”

Even a proud, hubris-stuffed, Grade 8 graduate can figure out how self-serving a position that is. This is a position that disregards every last one of radio’s other stakeholders, which include: audiences, advertisers, station staffs and, where applicable, shareholders.

Strategies that would lessen the costs of corporate radio can be bleated from the mountaintops. Confident expectations of acceptance, particularly by stressed-out minions are assured. But, it is, categorically, a flat-out disastrous position.

Readers are well aware of how radio is slipping ever lower on the list of desirable advertising media – in spite of evidence that the patient (radio) is not bleeding out on an ignored gurney in a hospital hallway.

Radio sales departments are being provided with excellent materials for presenting radio’s case, but the hemorrhaging has yet to be stopped. Tying a tourniquet around radio’s neck may not be the most effective solution.

Breaking News: It Gets Worse

For decades, radio has been operating under two main, crippling, psychological phenomena, the labels of which are “Delusion” and “Denial.” Radio has been operating under the delusion that it is generating superior products and services that have been and continue to be as effective and influential as possible. The denial portion is about radio’s unwillingness to accept how it is failing to redirect any resources to the development of the necessary elements required to get the medium of the axle-deep rut in which it labors.

And now for Radio’s Most Important Unanswered Question

Why, and for what purpose, does radio absolutely refuse to make every effort possible to upgrade its on-air presentations and local, commercial production elements? This is no rhetorical question. It is a question, the answer to which, to make any sense at all, must include the aforementioned delusions and denials under which radio continues to operate.

Like with the matter of “consolidation.” Are there any rational, non-self-serving arguments for continuing the status quo as they apply to programming and commercial production – any at all?

Radio programming and the generation of local commercial messaging is in total disarray, an abject shambles. These elements are also slowly expiring on a gurney in a forgotten hallway – sweaty, smelly sheets and all.

To my knowledge, no evidence exists that the, by now, required improvements have been investigated, let alone seriously considered.

Only the delusional and those in denial could maintain such positions and ongoing behaviors, refusing to make massive improvements in one’s own industry – an industry that has no other alternatives for developing its influence, efficiencies, and acceptance by audiences and advertisers only reinforces the proposition.

An outsider could consider the situations in which radio finds itself and, without danger of any forthcoming, rational response, wonder: “Are these guys nuts?”

This situation is one that requires no discussion or debate – only a new awareness. A sincere confession might be pleasant as well. We can agree on the following: Consolidation sucks. Dinosaurs did not wear saddles. Radio needs to reinvent itself before, as a viable and desirable medium, we go extinct ourselves.

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. He can be reached at [email protected]


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