Radio Supporting Print? 


(By Ronald Robinson) In my previous piece, I dealt with the generally unknown or, in some cases disregarded, factors that constitute the significant differences between the print medium and electronic media. Please appreciate that “print” includes newspapers, billboards, bus boards, brochures, pamphlets, and inane but entertaining bumper stickers. Electronic media includes radio, TV, digital devices, computer screens, and telephones. I’m not sure about Dixie cups and stretched, waxed string.

A brief, generalized review: Our brains/minds are more efficient at processing (understanding) information and content when accessed through a print medium. Retention (memory) of the material is also enhanced with hard copy.

Electronic media, however, have a direct line to those aspects of our selves that process and respond to material, primarily at emotional levels. Should the presented material also contain emotional elements, all the better, especially for radio.

Further, and this is critical: Not only does the print medium access our capacities for critical thinking, electronic media bypasses that — leaving us more credulous and more gullible, more open to being influenced! We are more apt to believe the material that gets injected into us electronically.

Over the years, my main premises have been about how radio has been presented to audiences by way of on-air talent, and in the writing of commercial copy. To be more effective, a different and unique set of linguistic approaches and methodologies is required. More emotional/creative elements would be a bonus benefit. But the priority is about the more effective language patterns that are not being applied on the radio.

Meanwhile, I am going to suggest there are as important and yes, even sinister factors in play. A demonstration of that would be the last American presidential election. For the greatest majority of the electorate, the influential materials, both electronic campaign advertising and electronic media coverage, were the elements to which most citizens were exposed. Emotionalism reigned supreme.

I mean: Would anybody with their critical thinking faculties engaged accept the garbage that was foisted on them by the candidates? What they got was a bombastic, bellicose, baffled bully whose main attribute was the ability to deliver bulls*** by the truckload. That was what was accepted from a perceived and preferred alternative candidate. 

A wall paid for by Mexico. Believable? Tax cuts exclusively for the wealthiest promoted as a tax cut for everybody. Reasonable? Equitable gun laws. Rational? Functional health care programs. Desirable? Not to those members of the population who were being indoctrinated almost exclusively by electronic media. Many who were enraged either recoiled or bailed out. The rest got sucked in by electronically delivered, mind-numbing but very stimulating, nonsense.

Given the amount of time we spend ogling or listening to electronic media, we could be accused of voluntarily giving up our capacities to consider material and have some organized and critical thoughts about that to which we are being constantly exposed. The neurology of our brains leaves us wide open to manipulation.

Encouraging people to read more papers and books would, I believe, be of significant benefit to our societies. With that in mind, I include a radio script that could be provided as a PSA – at no charge to the management.

  • Here at Poodle 96.9, we appreciate the loyalty of our listeners. Plus, people enjoy hearing us while engaging in other activities like – surgery! Tuning in, particularly while driving, is entertaining, informative and, it is safe. We say, “Whoopy!” We also understand that listeners can be even better informed when they also get their information from the print medium. So, we are urging Poodle 96.9 listeners to do a very smart thing: Get the paper and read the paper.

Without providing an explanation of the neurological distinctions, any station that runs such a promo is still doing their listeners and their station a significant service. The exercise will gain more credibility for the station — a very nice bonus. 

It is, certainly, too late to expect anything resembling a full recovery from the overwhelming intrusion of electronic media, yet this may be an important effort. The trend towards any further obliteration of the print medium carries with it extremely severe consequences to any democracy. It may be that serious.

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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