Out Of Time
August 16, 2016
It's our choice, nothing else...
A few years ago, I posted The Story, a piece about the journey that began in the early 1800s and culminated in the second inauguration of Barack Obama.
A client of many years, someone who has become a close friend, e-mailed me to say this:
"The reality is that this story, and so many others like it, will only be heard on NPR. The ratings-driven commercial stations in America don't have the patience (or resources) to research and run these kinds of stories, particularly if (their) specialty is playing music. You should be an NPR contributor. I'm serious."
I appreciated the compliment, because that's how I took it. I think NPR is great most days, producing the best radio content heard in America.
How about this then...?
"Everything good needs time. Don't do work in a hurry. Time means power for your work. Mediocrity is always in a rush; but whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing with consideration."
"For genius is nothing more nor less than doing well what anyone can do badly."
But that's so old, you protest. So much has changed. No one can succeed following that advice now.
So let's modernize it...
"...the goal isn't to get the show on faster or to make it noisier. Instead, the goal ... is to say something worth saying and to do it in a way that's worth waiting for."
"The challenge is ... to be insightful enough and patient enough to use the (unlimited) time to create slow media that people actually want to listen to ... Slow media is not for the distracted masses, it's for the focused few."
That is Seth Godin, about as up-to-the-minute hip about media and trends as you can find.
The time it took to produce The Story was in thinking about how our past links to our present, and our future. The actual research takes no time at all today, thanks to Google and the Internet.
Writing -- at least good writing -- always requires some time, but it wasn't like writing a book, and I'm not that great a writer.
Yes, radio is still about gross impressions, and rating points, and mass -- but I think, I know, Seth is right about where media is heading, towards the "focused few" -- towards content "people actually want to listen to" and are willing to pay for.
We, the owners and operators of radio stations, have made the conscious choice to so over-work a limited staff that we admit we are incapable of producing anything that requires real contemplation and preparation.
We have done this not because we are losing money, but because we want to make even more!
The point is, we have not just opened the door to music services such as Pandora and Spotify, by over-commercializing and junking up our music product, we have torn it off its hinges by ignoring the value of time -- unscheduled, unhurried, unstressed -- for thinking and dreaming and creating.
And that is to our great detriment and eventual shame.