(By Ronald Robinson) Crazed, snarling terriers chasing passing hubcaps have a better chance of coming away from the exercise without serious injuries than do too many of radio’s yapping apologists. According to some stout defenders of music radio’s status quo, radio’s position is, essentially, fine and dandy and righteously rosy. It isn’t — even as money is being made.
Now, I am willing to speculate how many commercial music stations — because they are extremely healthy in their marketplaces — are still close to the philosophical, programming precipice as are many more of the under-performing outfits. But, that’s hardly sayin’ something. I do suggest, however, even they are risking grievous injury while they are out there frolicking in highway traffic. As we all know, highway traffic doesn’t play favorites.
Before getting into related matters, my general rant has been about how radio has been severely underutilized. Further, satisfying explanations are not being provided. Even as reasonable justifications are unavailable, my so-called “hatred of radio” has been dumped out as compelling evidence of an undeniable rationale.
Much of the materials upon which I have been basing my premises, strategies, and methodologies for radio have been available beginning around 1976. They were provided as information to enhance the efficiency, productivity, and ease of application to those primarily in the counseling professions — the shrinks, psychologists, and coaches of the day. So extraordinarily effective were the methods, that a major psychiatric association sued the authors of the original material to keep the information out of the public domain.
It is my intention to keep on professing the critical need for radio’s on-air and copywriting communicators to radically increase their communication (linguistic) skills to the degree where they will become more influential and, perhaps, as importantly, to where they become even more listenable to any station’s audience. This is doable and is not a pie residing in some yonder sky.
With that in mind, Welcome to The Lazy U Ranch. (And by “U,” I mean: “YOU.”) I have always allowed that “You” is an effective word in getting a listener’s attention. But the impact lasts for about a nano-second — tops. After that, the consequences are toxic, dangerous, and extremely off-putting.
Applying the “You” has been, and continues to be, the go-to and most often applied approach in broadcasting. The alternatives (and there are many) have been considered with a barely fleeting indifference as well as outright derision, particularly when challenges are being provided. Further, applying the “You” is an incredibly lazy approach. Hence, The Lazy U Ranch.
To be clear: The promotion of the body of alternative, more effective linguistic works is a horse I am willing to kick until it rises from the track with a jock [sic] on its back — scorching down the stretch — just in time to win the Music Radio Derby. I have, indeed, been putting the boots to this ornery nag.
Consistently applying the “You” generates a number of negative responses in a member of a radio audience:
– It acts as another unwelcome jolt to the listener’s current, subjective experience.
– It forces them to decide if the “You” is actually they.
– When the included content assures them that it doesn’t – and it seldom ever does – the listener is compelled to generate another response. Those of us that toil in the mind-molding trade like to call this new experience for the listener a state of “Pizzdoughedness.” This is hardly a desirable state to which an audience member should be triggered into arriving. No good for the communicator. No good for the advertiser, and no good for the station.
Having already jerked a listener around with such a blunt and invasive targeting tool (You), we then ratchet up the assaults and/or insults by continuously telling this unknown, unspecified individual what to do. We make demands for behaviors. Instead of massaging, influencing, cajoling, and yes, sometimes tricking a listener, we grab the linguistic equivalent of brass knuckles, beating on their minds with our crazy, lazy talking.
Our communications, arguably, are already mediocre enough, but we also, out of habit and tradition, are nevertheless doing a fantastic job of mentally mugging our audiences.
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 protected]