Fun Cannot Be Formatted
This week, I came across an alarming number of people who talked about radio and the lack of fun, enjoyment and entertainment it brings to them. Some of the reaction was predictable. On the Radio Stuff podcast we talked to teens about radio.
“I don’t laugh to jokes on the radio,” one girl said.
Another guest talked about racing to turn off the car radio to avoid the onslaught of commercials and having to endure songs he “hates” to hopefully hear one he likes.
“I can pay $4.95 a month to Pandora avoid ads.” and skip songs.
What did surprise me was the conversation with a veteran radio host who had an epiphany when his own mom didn’t recognize him on the air, because he wasn’t having fun anymore.
What happened? Somewhere along the way radio lost its fun factor.
Paralysis by analysis.
Programmers, GMs, corporate VPs all meddling too much.
Too much focus on results and not enough on entertaining the listeners.
Yes, there is some science to radio, but there’s just as much art. And art is messy, unpredictable, and subjective.
“A leader is best
When people barely know he exists
Of a good leader, who talks little,
When his work is done, his aim fulfilled,
They will say, “We did this ourselves.”
We all started in radio because we loved and enjoyed what we were doing. It seemed effortless. Now, somehow, it seems full of effort and struggle. Many radio execs are trying to “manage” their way to success instead of lead. “Say this. Don’t say that. Read this. Be out by this time. Don’t forget to tease, promote, do weather and traffic together. ” I’m as guilty as anyone, but I’m changing my tune.
“The great Way is easy,
yet people prefer the side paths.
Be aware when things are out of balance.”
I believe the key to bringing fun back to radio starts with building a trust between the programmers and talent. There needs to be room to create and permission to fail. Stations need to allow autonomy, personality, creativity, and unpredictability. Setting general guidelines for brand and success should allow the talent blossom. If you don’t trust your talent to deliver results then get new talent instead of programming them like robots.
A lot of radio people are over-thinking, over-directing, over-correcting, and over-reacting.
We need to get over it.
It’s time radio folk get back to enjoying ourselves, so listeners can experience the magic and joys of entertaining radio once again.