October 29, 2013
And aiming high
The mass part of mass media is responsible.
Any time you try to keep from offending 100 people you exercise caution, you self-edit, and that is maximized quantitatively if you're trying to keep from offending 100,000 or 1,000,000 people.
The reason Pandora, Spotify, iTunes Radio and all the rest are designed as they are is simple, really. One of the few things each of the millions of their users agree on is they dislike really long commercial breaks and/or breaks that happen too often.
Beyond that, there is no agreement, and if any one of those individualized personal stations was put on a broadcast signal in your market, the odds are it wouldn't get more than 10 listeners.
Research and focus groups can help tell you what not to do, but they cannot often tell you what to do, especially when you're in the business of making a product that makes people feel, that matters to them, that has personal meaning to them.
That requires vision and instinct.
As Steve Jobs once said, people can't tell us what they think they will want until we show it to them. They can refine what we produce, but no one 20 years ago was asking for an iPod or an iPhone. We couldn't imagine that.
If you're trying to create a station that really matters to listeners, that makes them feel strongly every time they tune in, that would be missed and even mourned when it disappeared, following a formula produced by focus groups will not help you.
The answers you're seeking, the truth you need, is within you if you have the courage to trust yourself and the support within your company to be responsible for the canvas you paint.
Be bold. Nothing great was ever created by a group searching for compromise.
Be the flame that leads the way.