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Ron Robinson

Are You Still Dropping The "Y" Bomb?

Over the years, I have found that my dropping of the Y-Bomb results in one of two, basic responses. Broadcasters either immediately panic and scurry away while covering their ears and muttering Na-na-na-na-na. Or, they panic; muster up some righteous indignation; pick up their torches and pitchforks and look around to make sure there are others willing to head up the mountain. Those that have both experiences at the same time just vibrate to the point where they explode right there on the spot.

Given the pressures Radio is under despite the Happy Daze pronouncements by some senior ownership who are blissfully unaware many of their stations scurvy-ridden crews are ripping up the hull planks, scrounging for lemon peels - this is no time to be hiding behind or spewing Dogma. To be succinct: There is no Santa. There is no Easter Bunny. There is no Tooth Fairy and there is no Personal Listener. I could go deeper, but that would become a dust-up for another time and another bar. Suffice for me to say, Im a secular Canadian. All I really have to be is nice.

The Y-Bomb, to continue, is not a precision weapon either. Nor is it clean. Its a dirty bomb; leaves large holes, tons of collateral damage and renders the environment toxic for long periods. The moment a broadcaster says You, the largest portion of any audience is only ticking moments away from being blown off by being unable to relate to or believe whatever else in which that you has been wrapped. But, the broadcaster has (unknowingly) made it incumbent on the listener that they do go through a process of attempting to relate and believe!

For example: The nice announcer says, and Im glad to have you here with me. Although a banal, vacuous and innocuous statement anyway, it also challenges a listener to wonder how they got to be with the announcer when theyre not! If the otherwise nice announcer were to change that somewhat by saying, and its great to have you listening. the, by now, befuddled listener is obliged to conclude: He has no way of knowing that. And besides, I wasnt actually listening its just on in the background.

This is an ongoing, everyday, every shift, almost every set, every spot and every promo phenomenon. Theres no need for me to complete the list. So many examples so little time. Rule: People process language, first literally! Yikes! An extremely impressive incidence of this noxious behavior, however, comes mostly from all those TV stations and some radio stations who have chosen to market themselves with that whining, pandering, patronizing statement: On Your Side.

On My Side!? When? In what way? What? Who? You? Me? Huh? Even my normally tolerant offspring might respond to that by texting the station back with a slightly more strident: STFU! The station might be as well served, if not respected, were they to simply come out and say, Since we have decided our audience is made up of gullible, credulous, clodhopper-hicks, we believe we can ram just about any scat in here; tell them anything and these  four-toothed goofs will believe it. They could be right but only some of the time. Many folks are wising up. Its a trend. Meanwhile, anybody else willing to stake the prosperity of their broadcasting business based on such a proposition? Apparently yes!

Is it any wonder stations keep telling us how wonderful, sincere, credible and worthwhile they are? No, because they are none of those. If they were, we would already know it without being told. And if audiences ever figure that one out in larger numbers.woo-hoo!

As to The Personal Listener: That was first offered to newbies as a fantasy-technique to get over mic-fright. It was never intended to be anything more than a part-time, short-term metaphor. Nor was it ever thought through to the point where a later reality-check would become a necessary therapy. It was expected a rookie would, in time, get past all that and realize all by they own seves - they were talking at/to an audience made up of many individuals none of whom was in the ongoing awareness of the broadcaster.

Its true that some deluded listeners insist they are being talked to exclusively. But, help is available. Experientially, that is more a comment about a subjective feeling - not a verifiable fact. Broadcasters, however, who agree and continue to feel the same way have less of an excuse and even more issues about which to be severely concerned. That thing, that assumption, nevertheless, just hasnt turned out properly. What we had was a useful story that became a myth that became mythology that became accepted wisdom that became: Dogma and weve been screwing ourselves up on the premise ever since.

Fortunately, even better alternatives do exist and, once again - help is available.

Ronald T. Robinson has been involved in Canadian Radio since the '60s as a performer, writer and coach and has trained and certified as a personal counsellor. Ron makes the assertion that the most important communicative aspects of broadcasting, as they relate to Talent and Creative, have yet to be addressed. Check out his website

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