(By Ronald Robinson) Although the adage has been around for longer than I can remember, the value of the advice has yet to be appreciated. It certainly hasn’t taken hold in radio – not in any meaningful way. Here’s the line: “If you want to determine a person’s or an organization’s intentions, pay less attention to what they say and more attention to what they do.”
I have found myself saying to myself – whenever I pay any attention to myself: “That just simplifies, uh, everything!” And it would, if the admonition had ever gained any traction. Such is not the case. We are the dependable rubes – we’ll accept just about anything somebody else claiming credibility for themselves is willing to serve up. When the self-anointed Truth Talkers are on the case, there is no need to look for, never mind consider, any evidence that may be contradictory.
Radio, however, through accident or happenstance, has been able to indefinitely delay being challenged on any claims. There is an excellent reason for this stellar circumstance: Radio avoids making too many assertions about its own agenda, but continues making suggestions for its overall, general, star-spangled awesomeness.
Others who have no dogs in radio’s hunt for credibility, and less interest, tend to find the whole issue as no more than mildly annoying white noise in the entertainment, information, and advertising environments, hardly worthy of any notable considerations. There are, after all, any number of other media and platforms, ideal for advertising, that enjoy much greater credibility than has radio – for decades.
Radio, despite the barking and yapping that masquerades as intentions or even promises of performance, has totally abdicated any such intentions or promises by what it does. More specifically, it abdicates those responsibilities by what it does not do and by what it does not say.
Here then, is the positioning statement from radio’s ownership and leadership that will never be made public, but that has, and continues to, make up the bedrock of the radio position. This is the foundational edict by which radio operates:
Radio’s Unadvertised Mission Statement.
As an industry, we will endeavor to invest as little of our financial resources, talent, and efforts as possible in order to provide ridiculously low quantities and qualities of services as we can manage – so long as we can get away with it. We shall provide a minimum of services. We shall suppress entertainment content. We shall suppress the provision of informational content, and we shall continue to cheat our advertisers of the quality of advertising material that we, otherwise, might still be able to provide, if only we still knew how.
Operating as just another rube from the boonies, I have little difficulty in stating I have never heard anybody in radio’s leadership come out and make such an outstanding admission of their own lack of integrity, while kowtowing to some other unarticulated ideology that has everything to do with greed. Profits, without performance, are held in the highest esteem.
This greed position, by the way and ironically, is the default position that is perpetuated with a (possibly) known understanding of the lack of competence within the industry. And that’s just nasty. Mentions of any suggestions of group integrity or commitment to public (audiences/advertisers) service are also glaring by their absence.
There also exists another sinister and destructive position held within the owner and leadership group – a collective arrogance. This is made manifest by a collective insistence that they already know what is best for the industry, an unwillingness to consider outside counsel, and a determination to crush inside counsel. Indeed, employees have learned to consider any “suggestion boxes” as dangerous devices that include security cameras and trip wires.
The models for saying one thing and doing another are pervasive in our cultures. Consequences have been minimal. The amazed delight of the purveyors of the strategy is palpable.
Radio is also under the radar of the very people they have yet to pledge to serve. Audiences and potential advertisers have more than enough on their plates to even consider the hi-jinx that radio has been perpetrating on them for too many years.
But radio’s leadership doesn’t talk about that, either.
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]