(By Ronald Robinson) With the passing of the extraordinary, but still suspiciously suspicious, “Chickenman”aka Dick Orkin, Miss Helfinger can now lead a life of her own. Meanwhile, many generations of radio executives who have been exposed to the productions from the Radio Ranch have said, “That’s the kind of stuff we should be doing — someday.” We abuse and waste our own medium, systematically and with spectacularly self-defeating efficiency.
Further, radio dogma persists, and there are extreme, painful penalties meted out to those poor devils that suggest otherwise or challenges them. Dogma #1: Actual radio creative is time consuming, expensive, difficult to write and produce, and, oh yeah – it doesn’t work!
For those stations that are incapable of producing anything more than noxious, cookie-cutter “direct response” ads, clinging to those edicts would be the necessary, go-to position. The only portion that does reside in the category of “myth” is the “it doesn’t work” part. That part is pure myth. The rest of them, while true, are still a cover for incompetence and a spectacular lack of motivation.
Throwing “creative” into this discussion is like spreading a pail of red herrings all over the deck and declaring, “Here! Argue about these, instead!” Many would jump at the invitation, and days of fruitless blithering would ensue. But, be assured: Very few in radio’s leadership are paying much attention, anyway.
Let’s be clear: Radio creative is occasionally applied to generate the retention of interest in listening to the ads, and to generate emotions in an audience. This is in order to influence them for the benefit of the station and its advertisers. This approach, this process, is far more powerful than simply delivering content information.
Reasonable, educated, and experienced radio personnel would immediately agree and suggest it would be a good time to break for lunch — moving on to other, more pressing matters on the agenda later.
Copywriters, from their station gulags, are constantly having messages smuggled out that decry their plight of having to scribble noxious drivel that is delivered to sales reps and, in turn, foisted off to advertisers as “actual advertising.” What, to my mind, is even more spectacular is how the advertisers themselves have not only come to expect this (alleged) bilge, they insist on it! To the degree that these lowest common denominator messages still work has always been the fallback justification – and an amazement to many.
Meanwhile, I am obliged to confess my own failure at getting through to those who could take the necessary steps to make massive improvements to their own organizations.
All the above, however, has certainly not been the only or the main crux of my position or my messaging. Otherwise erstwhile, smart, intelligent, well-meaning, and professional broadcasters have yet to key in on the more important elements of radio communications. “Creative” works better. Yes, we all get that. At least, I would hope so. It is more expensive and more difficult to produce. We all get that, too.
The most important aspects of communicating to a radio audience have yet to be addressed. Fortunately, there are a few extremely credible and professional radio practitioners who are beginning to lean in another direction, mostly based on the following, new appreciations of how, specifically, this medium works.
- Radio, despite the acceptance of all traditions, is not as effective as a direct, authoritarian, consciousness-accessing, or organic medium.
- Radio, instead, is more effective when it is understood as an INdirect, NON-authoritarian, UNconscious accessing, and electronic medium.
What all this means is: A completely new (to radio) system of language communications must be added to the linguistic mix in order to take advantage of and exploit the new paradigm.
By “proven,” I mean proven in countless neurological studies at the cost of thousands of cruelly martyred lab rats, and supported by numerous anecdotal demonstrations. It would take the hubris of a science denier to mount any counter arguments. These would become examples of delusional meanderings.
We really can move past any philosophical arguments here as the strategies, techniques, and methodologies to exploit the new paradigm already exist and are ready for implementation. They apply equally to on-air presentations as well.
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. Email him at email@example.com.