Happy National You Day
August 21, 2015
Thursday was a special day for everyone who reads this column, a day dedicated to something very near and dear to all of us.
Yes, Thursday was #NationalLemonadeDay.
What? Oh, yeah, that, too.
It was, of course, also #NationalRadioDay, a day established by our forefathers to... no, it's actually just one of the endless "#National(whatever)Day" hashtag celebrations that have cropped up in the last couple of years, because anyone can declare #NationalBagelDay or #NationalLeftHandersDay or #NationalIndigestionDay or #NationalHemorrhoidDay and people on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram will react as if it's real. And my timelines and news feeds are full of "Happy #NationalRadioDay" posts, all of which are from people in the radio business, not listeners.
I noted the latter in my own Official #NationalRadioDay tweet (yes, I'm stealing from myself), and it struck me that radio is throwing itself a party and leaving the door open, and not too many of its friends are dropping by. Maybe it's because there's no free beer. Or maybe it's because what radio is celebrating is not necessarily what people value about radio. There ARE things to celebrate, but...
Okay, look. I'm going to say it again. Reach isn't the most important value radio can offer. Reach is nice, but it doesn't demonstrate engagement, or effectiveness, or entertainment value. You want to know what the industry should be celebrating, today and every day, and selling to the public like crazy?
Talent. People. The thing that separates radio -- in all its forms, broadcast and online, streaming and podcasts, satellite and AM/FM -- from a jukebox or text-to-speech app is personality, creativity, the human element. You want a #NationalRadioDay? THAT'S what it should celebrate, not the (expletive) transmitter or the (expletive) generic umbrella idea of the medium.
Radio, like Soylent Green, is people. Or, rather, it SHOULD be people. Too many companies and managers treat talent as interchangeable liner card readers, and when radio goes out to sell itself to the world, it's all about things like brands (which, if they stand for "more music," are meaningless) and reach (93 percent. 93 percent. 93 PERCENT!!! DO YOU HEAR US?!? 93 PERCENT!!!!) and not the people who can make those things mean more than any numbers can express. Radio should be making stars, and stars should be elevating radio. It's happening in podcasting (disclaimer below, as usual), but AM/FM radio can do that, too.
Yeah, I have my misty-eyed memories of cart machines and cue burns and razor-blade production, and I could root around in the garage and find my old airchecks, too (unless I did the smart thing and burned them; I can't remember). But #NationalRadioDay shouldn't be about nostalgia, or JUST about nostalgia. And it shouldn't be about radio's reach or numbers -- leave that to the sales staff. It should be about the future of the medium, broadcast or on-demand, and it should be about the people who continue to make it special....
...Which is WAY more than I ever intended to say about a "holiday" that doesn't really exist. But it should. And next August 20th, when the hashtags come around again, it would be great if radio, as an industry, used the day to celebrate talent and creativity in every form of the medium. Call letters and transmission lines and back-when-AM-was-king aren't worth a #Day. You are.
You know, I should pick a day and declare it #NationalAllAccessTalkTopicsDay, because why not celebrate All Access News-Talk-Sports' Talk Topics, where you'll find hundreds of items and ideas and bad jokes, available now by clicking here? I could use the attention. And there's the Talk Topics Twitter feed at @talktopics with every story individually linked to the appropriate item. Wait, if you hashtag a Twitter feed, does the Internet implode? I'm not gonna risk it.
And here's the Full Disclosure: I also serve as Director of Programming for Nerdist Industries, which includes the Nerdist Podcast Network, one of your major podcast entities. When's #NationalPodcastDay? Or can we piggyback on #NationalRadioDay? Who's in charge here?
Anyway, I certainly hope you enjoyed your #NationalRadioDay, however you celebrated it. If we're gonna have this thing, shouldn't we get the day off? Or at least some perks, like a discount at Chipotle or something? We gotta work on this before #NationalRadioDay 2016.