Perfection Is Over-Rated
January 13, 2015
What would radio sound like if we stopped trying to be perfect and started worrying more about being entertaining?
For a moment stop and imagine what your radio station would sound like to you if it was perfectly entertaining.Â Really think.Â What can you hear?Â What do you visualize?Â What do feel?Â What is the station doing?Â Capture in your mind what makes it more entertaining?Â I bet you can hear a radio station that is doing more on the air than most stations currently are.Â Try this technique and capture your imagination on paper.Â We've done it with shows and stations and it has made them better. Einstein said "Imagination is more powerful than knowledge" you'll be surprised at how true that is.
It's all too easy for programmers to obsess about perfect clock construction, crafting the best rotations, keeping the jock talk over song intros, ensuring the imaging is concise and that nothing stops the flow of music.Â Not that these details can't help (and often make a difference between bad and good stations) but in our bid to make radio 'textbook perfect' we are focused on what we can remove.Â Not what we can add.Â We set rules. Guidelines. Quotas.Â We end up removing the sense of unpredictability - the drama - from our stations. It's ok to be a little rough around the edges, listeners want entertainment not perfection.
The word perfection stops us from experimenting, from taking risks, from making mistakes. As radio station's search to find this elusive 'perfection' we start to play it safe, finding safety in the tried and tested techniques.Â Programmers hire personalities and then tell them what we need them to do and say.Â We broaden our musical appeal to the point of almost indifference. We recycle the same promotional tactics because they've always worked.Â We are obsessing about the wrong things.Â We're colouring inside the lines. Controlling rather than creating.
The result is a radio station that does nothing wrong, but rarely does something right.
The definition of entertainment is... "a form of activity that holds the attention and interest of an audience, or gives pleasure and delight."
What would radio sound like if we started evaluating our performance much more closely with the definition of entertainment?Â
Stations would have an element of surprise to their execution.Â We would do and say things the audience wasn't expecting.Â And we would do it often.Â We would use the power of curiosity to create stories on the air and our inbuilt human desire to know what happens next will keep listeners hooked.Â What if we challenged ourselves to do the opposite of what people expected? Drama requires us to create not control.
What if we started asking ourselves these questions on a daily or weekly basis to asses our stations Entertainment Value:
- What did we do that would have surprised the audience?
- How did we capture the audience's imagination?
- Which emotions did we showcase?Â How did we deepen the connection?
- What did our personalities say that was unexpected?
- How did we develop the topics our audience were interested in beyond the obvious?
- How can we make sure we do this all again next week?
Would your coaching sessions change for the better if we focused on those questions with the talent?Â I suspect if we focused on these areas and spent more time dreaming, creating and experimenting we'd add more entertainment to our product.Â
People get pleasure from what they enjoy.Â Pleasure is like a drug.Â When we find something pleasurable it gives us an instant high.Â It's a hit of good feeling.Â Once that dose wears off we go looking for our next fix.Â If your radio station can offer more hits (hits of good feeling not music quantity) than your competition you will win.Â Success for radio is in worrying more about where the entertainment is coming from not how we can be perfect in our execution.
Be courageous.Â Forget chasing perfection.Â Chase entertainment.Â Let's start creating again...