Just Plain Stupid
March 17, 2015
Seth Godin has a (typically) great post entitled, Confronting Stupid, that every executive in radio should read.
You see, the problem with consolidated radio is that owners (Wall Street and high-finance number-crunchers) thought they could grow by cutting, as they have in many other industries.
They evidently have so little confidence in radio as an entertainment source and in its ability to be the best solution to many advertisers' problems that they believe the only way to grow is by cutting expense.
And creative people are, and always will be, expensive.
They thought listeners wouldn't notice the difference when they heard plug-in voice-tracked content.
They thought as long as there was something minimally offensive between songs listeners wouldn't care, that they wouldn't miss whatever the voicetracking replaced.
The sad truth is, in many cases, they were right.
Shame on us.
We won't thrive by hoping to be slightly less awful than the other guys.
So far, the evidence would seem to indicate that listeners have stuck by radio in about the same numbers they always have.
But this kind of analysis misses the point Seth is making: Radio -- any entertainment and content-driven media -- isn't driven by simple formulas that anyone, regardless of talent, can follow.
Stories and story-telling matter.
Great writing, brilliant production, comedic timing, unconventional insight, the willingness to look just plain stupid in order to do something never before done, which might not work...
It all matters!
By cutting the number of minds and voices inside each room, Radio executives have simply cut the possibilities of creating something compelling and unique.
They've elected to compete with Pandora, Spotify and Sirius as music services.
That would be like Alabama voluntarily playing their backup QB in the BCS Championship Game because Ohio State had to.
That would be like Picasso competing with me by using a toothbrush and only one color.
And that's just plain stupid!