Radio Myth Versus Fact ...
September 13, 2016
It still makes me laugh how people respond when I tell them I am in the radio and music business. Many times I still get, "That's great, what else do you do?" I guess it is hard for them to conceptualize a person can make a living working in this industry; they act as if it's a hobby and want to know what I do for a living.
Whenever I get such a question, it reminds me of old radio myths lingering around the industry and with the listening public. Seriously, think about it: When you were a child, did you think the air personalities and/or the musicians lived at the station? Come on, admit it, don't feel bad, I remember calling KMOX in St. Louis and asking to speak to Jack Buck after a baseball ballgame when I was 11 years old. With all the new technology and social media, it makes me feel good to find out some people still call local stations to speak to the personalities who are beamed in via syndication; board-ops for various national shows have told me some folks are hard to convince that Ryan Seacrest, Zach Sang, Steve Harvey, and Tom Joyner are not physically at the station.
After talking and laughing with several of my radio friends, I started to make a Top 10 list of listener and radio industry myths. See if any of these would go on your list; I bet some will bring back some memories.
Myth 1: Top of the Hour -- Listeners tune in at the very top of each hour.
Fact: The top-of-the-hour thing is a television program or potentially a specialty radio thing, such as a countdown show. Listeners tune in at various times of the hour.
Myth 2: Listeners want more uptempo songs.
Fact: Folks listen for hit music. Many personalities still get it in their heads that tempo is the most important thing listeners care about. I can remember catching my morning crew dropping mid-tempo and ballads because they thought their show needed more energy. In reality, play the perceived hits and the audience will love you for it.
Myth 3: The more variety of artists and music played, the longer people listen.
Fact: You have to hold true to your format. People tune in because of the format you market. So, no surprises ... give them what they expect.
Myth 4: Don't play a song as much because it will make your listeners want to hear it more.
Fact: It depends on the radio plan and marketing strategy. Consider two radio stations. Radio station "A" has a power rotation (Top 23 Hot Songs) and a medium category (37 current songs). It plays a song from the Hot category twice an hour and songs in a Medium category come up once an hour.
Radio station "B" has a Hot category (11 songs) and in the Medium category (15 songs). It plays three Hots an hour and two Medium category songs an hour.
"A" will be perceived as the station that doesn't play the hits; station "B" will do better in the ratings because listeners will have more opportunities to potentially hear their favorite songs.
Perceived hit songs are the ones that are vetted through the proper interpretation of research, streaming statistics, downloads, sales, video airplay and feel for the marketplace.
Myth 5: The request lines, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat are the complete conscience of the entire listening audience.
Fact: Request lines represent 3-6% of the listening audience for any station. Add in social media and it still does not represent the overwhelming majority of a station's audience. None of these areas should ever be the sole reason for what you do; they are only a part of the equation.
Myth 6: Midday is the best shift to feature female announcers.
Fact: Great announcers come in all genders. There was a time in our business when women were considered best suited for middays; these days, women hold down top-rated shifts in all dayparts; from AM drive and throughout the day
Myth 7: Program Directors do nothing but program music and work with the air staff.
Fact: At one time, that was true. However, radio has become an industry in which PDs are actually managers; they deal with business managers, budgets, website management, community relations, the air staff, engineering, marketing and sales department objectives, etc. Working knowledge of all departments is important.
Myth 8: Morning jocks just seem to know what to do.
Fact: It takes several years of learning the craft of radio and how to apply it to effectively do a morning show. It takes a combination of human observation, knowing the music of the format, timing, having the ability to project your personal side, and present everything in a concise and entertaining fashion. It also takes some time to learn how to wake listeners up and not wake up with them on the air.
Myth 9: Radio stations are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week
Fact: Radio is an abstract concept. There is a business office and other assorted persons; business hours are usually 8:30a to 5p. Hard to believe, but there are still adults who do not think of radio as a business.
Myth # 10: All announcers have big deep voices.
Fact: Much of the industry was once geared towards deep-voiced males. It's about projecting one's self, not about depth or voice range. It's how you come across to the audience. Even people with deep voices need to be trained. The most important thing is how you use your voice. Some staffs have as many women on air as men.
Radio people are human and we walk around believing things because we either heard it or read it on the Internet; and we all know everything on the Internet is true, ha ha. Do yourself a favor and try and make sure what you've heard has a basis in fact and is not just another myth perpetuated by an uninformed listener or misinformed radio type.
Meanwhile, off-air, continue to explain to listeners the difference between a DJ and an air personality; one works in a club or for a mobile DJ service and the other works in a studio at a radio station. Myths and reality make for great discussions.