Radio’s Responsibility: Ignored


(By Ronald Robinson) According to reputable research from informed, reliable sources, radio still enjoys a reach in the mid-90s percentile. (Let the banners flap!) Radio, quite often, has been able to demonstrate an impressively healthy Return On Investment for many advertisers. (Let the bells clang!) Many advertisers are eager to include a little radio in their advertising mixes. (Let the trumpets toot)

So, how come all the sincere whining about radio’s “low, low, bargain basement rates” and the minimal preferences for radio as an advertisers’ medium? Well, I do have a couple of preliminary speculations about that, particularly at the local level.

I wonder about those advertisers who insist on writing their own copy. I suggest they do so for a few reasons:

1. They may be suffering from a form of hubris where they truly believe they know what it takes to motivate their potential customers.
2. They have little evidence that would suggest the “pros” at the local station could do much better.
3. By accepting locally produced commercials, however, they might be participating in the game show, “Advertisers Dumpster Diving.”

Because of the impact of radio’s own, self-generated indoctrinations, the processes of internal learning about how the medium works and how to work the medium have been ground to an abrupt and tragic halt. Readers can consider the cruel irony when they realize: We are also in the indoctrination business!

After (supposedly) acquiring and holding a target audience, our job is to influence that audience to buy products and services they may not want or need at prices they may not be able to afford, and to do so on a regular basis. With that as our mandate, a professional radio-person can be challenged about their reluctance to apply the well-known techniques that are already and oppressively delivered by those with a religious agenda, a political ideology, and a corporate position. Also include those in the management of North Korea.

Even as marketing authority and good radio friend Bob McCurdy has also demonstrated how radio content is impacting/influencing audiences with a combination of their conscious, semi-conscious, and unconscious mental processing, it is likely the information will be ignored or kicked to the curb by management – with extreme prejudice. To do otherwise requires another process of learning and applying new stuff. And, as an industry, we are not having any of that!

That revelation, by the way, is about audiences being influenced whether they like it or not. This is the neurological nature of every electronic medium – a terrifying concept when one considers how elections are won – and lost.

Radio has not had to be all that aware of the concepts of political influence through electronic media as the medium hasn’t been picking up much political business over the years, anyway.

I am satisfied that radio has, pretty much, maxed out on its reach. A little more would hardly be of much consequence. We could just accept that reach as our “freebie” from the universe, and move on towards elements we can control and begin to experience mighty potentials.

Someday, we might work towards becoming actual “influence peddlers.” This is, after all, our mandate. This is our job. If anyone is squeamish about the priority, or the approach, they are not only in the wrong business, but participating in the subjugation of their employers – whether the bosses have that part figured out or not. (They don’t, by the way. No actions are being taken.)

Radio is famous – more like infamous – for producing shoddy, annoying, relatively ineffective commercial content. Professional ad agency-types get together for cocktails and, on occasion, start throwing out examples of clichés and other examples of radio’s advertising drivel – mockery for the cruel fun of it.

But that is what can be expected from an industry that has created its own defeatist, communicative dogma. Radio has discarded every opportunity to re-engage in any learning processes – a result of successful, self-induced indoctrinations – brainwashing. Yet, radio has no “Dear Leaders.” None are required, as all the dogma continues to be self-perpetuated.

Kool-Aid is still being pumped into the water coolers while gasses get piped through the ventilation systems. We are still under the ether – traveling companions of an ugly, vicious irony.

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. Contact Ron at [email protected]


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