Radio Indoctrination — Part 2


(By Ronald Robinson) I sometimes wonder how many in radio’s ownership and management will, from time to time, spend an hour monitoring — not really listening to — their station(s), and presume something along the lines of: “Sounds pretty good to me.” Then, they will jump into their vehicles and attempt to navigate through the thickest fog of the season.

My dad was a “road man” for Armco Steel. He drove through every kind of inclement weather in every season — winter, winter, winter, and the eight weeks of hard sledding in a Canadian summer — and would joke in his jocular way, “Driving through dense fog means you’ll never know what hit you.”

Similarly, radio has been driving (more like, aimlessly wandering) around in an equally dense combination of industry-generated smog and fog. Radio can’t really tell where it is, it can’t say where it’s going, and it definitely doesn’t know how to get there. Further, and this interrupts the laying out and execution of any possibly worthwhile plans, radio doesn’t even know if there is a “there” there. So, allotting resources to find out where “there” might be, has already dropped off radio’s “Honey do” list.

Such is the response of individuals and organizations that have been successfully indoctrinated to accept dogma — no matter how unreasonable, unsubstantiated, arbitrary, and foolish a set of induced and accepted set of beliefs might be.

As mentioned in my most recent, indoctrinations are oppressively ubiquitous in our culture. Religious organizations, political ideologies, corporate positioning and others, are all practitioners of: brainwashing. Reason and evidence become inconsequential elements to those being influenced or those already injected and infected.

For example: The ingestion of “low fat” food products is considered by the majority of constantly hungry diners to be a marvelous strategy for losing weight. However, fat is digested and used to produce proteins. Simple carbohydrates, meanwhile, are what produce sugars, which the body converts and stores as fat. That’s how we become chunky monkeys, or worse, obese. Indoctrination by advertising! Woo-hoo!

The food industry’s indoctrinations have eliminated or overruled science. Of course, anybody who has to drag their hulking carcasses off the couch without crushing their bags of Tostitos will be yelping their own twisted, delusional denials.

I mention that so I could present this: When an indoctrination program has been successfully applied, learning anything more stops! Radio has stopped inquiries, learning, and applying anything about its own communicative processes. Dead stop. Appeals denied.

Moreover, radio has gone out of its way to suppress the on-air talent and copywriters who might be willing to improve their knowledge, skills and effectiveness. “Not on our dime!” sez ownership and management. “Besides,” they will also insist. “There is no need to get into that stuff, anyway!”

There is an ugly irony here. Readers who are already among the foggy-indoctrinated will find they will be automatically discounting any points I have been providing — tossed aside as ludicrous.

When I was a kid, I had a frisky, wired-haired terrier, Suzy. Somehow, she found her mission in life was to chase cars and bark at the hubcaps. One evening she took after a vehicle and misjudged her position. Then, we got a cat.

I have demonstrated many times how radio is not a “one-to-one” medium, and that radio has no business making “demands for behaviors” of anyone in the audience. Yet, I have never been offered a single rational or cogent argument or piece of evidence that discounts just those two of many propositions. Instead, in response, I get the sfx of crickets.

Radio has been overcompensating for its unwillingness to challenge its own communicative traditions — its dogma. Instead, radio’s apologists snivel about the big reach the medium still enjoys — through no internal efforts of its own — and whines about reps not being able to increase rates and close more business.

This situation generates a hell of a bind. Ownership and management refuse to have the discussion about the fundamental need for the medium to address its communication processes. But until and unless it does, commercial radio will remain stuck in the glue; flapping around while insisting no further improvements are required. Making such foolish assertions takes powerful indoctrinations to make them stick.

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 Ron at [email protected]


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