Inspiration and Desperation

WTOP-Twitter-Main-B-v2I listened to 10 hours of streaming, on-demand radio and podcasts. Non-stop. I didn’t seek out fringe offerings. I was doing due diligence to hear what some consider to be the best news and talk offerings the U.S. has to offer.

I was duly impressed with the juggernaut that is WTOP – “Washington’s TOP News.” Always a ratings and revenue winner. The powers that be, and I assume Jim Farley is to credit, have found the delicate balance between authoritative and approachable, credible in content and casual or accessible in delivery. They make it seem natural and easy. It’s not. All radio news folk should listen to the morning drive team as inspiration.

That’s the good news.

What I encountered for most of my 10 hours of sensory assault was racist, xenophobic, sexist, homophobic, thoughtless garbage. Some of America’s iconic radio stations and shows are stuck in the past. They are unaware, unstructured, unprepared, and undermining radio’s credibility and relevance. It makes me wonder who is minding the store. Who is coaching talent, air-checking, providing vision and evolving the product to exceed the expectations of the listeners? From offensive Asian accents and decades old stereotypes to provoking coworkers to assault each other with racist and sexist insults. It really is the worst that radio has to offer.

And apparently iHeartMedia and Cumulus don’t care, because… why? The shows/talent are generating too much revenue, they don’t scrutinize content only numbers, or they really don’t care what people think. It is a shame that radio has to suffer for these fools. There are too many pros doing remarkable radio that the industry should be defined by lazy, uninspired, reactionary, out of touch offerings like I experienced.

We must expect more from our peers.

  1. March 21, 2016 at 8:29 AM

    I (My show) is 100% guilty of all the horrible examples you just mentioned. But I would like to give you some other perspective on this.

    • March 21, 2016 at 8:42 AM

      Terry – would you like to write a guest blog post? My comments are less directed at shows like Lex & Terry, Stern, Leykis or other shows that embrace the traits I highlighted and more towards “News Talk” shows that are raised up as beacons of great radio.

  2. March 21, 2016 at 9:33 AM

    I (My show) am 100% guilty of all the horrible things you mentioned here. But I would like to give you a different perspective.

    I can’t speak for my co-workers, but I love being coached and want to evolve as a broadcaster. Unfortunately it’s not that easy.

    My genre of radio has gone from doing creative, edgy radio that generates a lot of talk on the streets, to doing anything you need to do to get by. With online listening you have to give people content that they can’t get anywhere else. People like tasteless, shocking content and conflict and resolution is a real thing. This isn’t an excuse, but we are doing anything we can just to make money and stay in the business we love. I’m not proud of it, but I’m also making any apologies when it comes to paying my mortgage.

    Radio companies don’t give us people like you to work with anymore. As you know there’s one person in charge 2200 radio stations. They don’t have time to help and in most cases they are too busy doing all they can to keep their own job.

    As you know, I’ve been struggling to find my voice and tinkering with an idea that is exactly what you’re talking about here. For over 5 years now it’s all I’ve been able to think about. I have pretty much stopped doing new shows and recently invested in help structuring my show and ways to brand it. You are going to be my next call. On paper the show is everything you’re talking about. I now have a huge list of benchmark bits, guests and authentic, compelling content. My goal is to disrupt the status quo. I’m 100% committed to this. My vision is huge. It will make me grow as a broadcaster and hopefully make the listener grow in ways they’ve never imagined.

    I realize I’m probably throwing money away on this idea. I’m not confident that there are any decisions makers out there to give me the opportunity to shine and above all, coach me. You gave me an opportunity, but had mush more pressing issues than an hour weekend show to deal with. Who is going get behind hiring a staff who wants to effect the world and the industry? Nobody in this business cares about that. This isn’t just a job. My dream is to have authentic people working together to create something that nobody has ever heard before. I should have given up on the idea a long time ago. No matter how original an idea is, there are still questions like, “How does this fit on my radio station?” and “Who is the audience?” There are people who will try to make an out of the box idea fit into a box and it will die. I know there are other broadcasters out there with amazing ideas. But let’s be honest, nobody really wants to hear it. They say they do, but when it comes down to it they also do the bare minimum to keep their job. So, for now I’m giving it one last shot while I tell well crafted, disgusting dick-jokes.

  3. March 21, 2016 at 9:37 AM

    LOL! Sorry about that. I didn’t realize the first post made it through. Your post obviously really touched a nerve with me. As you know I struggled with News-Talk. My heart wasn’t into it. But my heart is into creating something that makes radio a little uncomfortable.

  4. March 21, 2016 at 8:20 PM

    I agree with you on content – but isn’t Trump really just playing an AM Talk Radio Host circa 1996? Seems to be working for him.

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