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Ron Robinson

If Only I Knew Who

Ronald T. Robinson

The Arab Potentate, proud, confident and leaning comfortably on his sturdy, opulent and stylishly-decorated tent, was purveying an expanse of desert his desert that stretched beyond the cut and rolling dunes and on into interminable beyond-the-horizon, scorching stretches that allowed only the adventurous, well prepared and sometimes desperate to cross, turned to the squinting, sweating and exasperated salesman and said, Right. What I really need is more sand.

So it is, I assert, with any member of any Radio audience: All any of them really needs is another broadcaster attempting to get up close and personal by targeting all comments directly at them and addressing them as You. I mean, like as-if?

Radio performers have had whole generations of applying this universally accepted, but unchallenged broadcast principle and have taken just as long to construct any number of rationalizations and justifications for its continued use.

Let me assure astute and generous readers: that turnip truck parked outside is not mine. Its a lease. I do recognize and I do appreciate how purveyors of the On-Air and Hype-Typing Arts have similar outcomes to my own in mind when they caress the keyboard or hit the mic-button. We claim to want some combination of the following: to be understood, appreciated, admired, respected, loved, worshipped, influential, valued and considered absolutely worthy of receiving free stuff. Yet, in the pursuit of those worthy ideals, many do apparently unknowingly but with unquestioned sincerity and habitual consistency - go out of their way by (figuratively) poking at a (perceived) individual listeners face, insulting their intelligence by presuming a connection to or worse, a relationship with that listener, mind-reading the internal experience of the listener and making claims the listener is having experiences which the majority are not. That they are also making demands - telling a listener what to do is another matter for another righteous rant.

Just those behaviors alone, I suggest, make up a strategy for severely diminishing whatever credibility the Personality may have been attempting to reinforce through talent, intelligence and skill a shame, too, given the outstanding Talent that is out here some of whom might still have work.

Having had this discussion more than a few times, I am prepared for and expectant of hearing how many broadcasters insist there is some kind of understanding or deal where the listener realizes and willingly accepts that a particular you, while it did interrupt them and did get their attention, was not intended for them, specifically that time. This premise, in my experience, is no more than a pre programmed Jocks hopeful fantasy. The fact is:  Nobody has ever cut that deal! They (listeners), in order to keep listening, are required to tolerate the practice much like they tolerate smog. They, I suggest, intuit its not a good thing, that they cant avoid it because it's everywhere and that there are no alternatives.

This Y-Bomb is being pumped out in every medium, too all the time and by some otherwise credible people and/or agencies. It's pervasive. Its ubiquitous. Or, as my uncle, Cliff, used to say, Its dern near everwhars, Nef-yew. The continuous application of the Y-Bomb has been no more than a trumped up, shoddy, pandering and arbitrary attempt at connecting with and influencing a listener.

Over many years, I have found performers, who, when presented with this alternative material, become noticeably agitated and speak to a presumption that the only and still distasteful alternative is to generalize to the point where they are addressing the audience as a group. (Hi everybody! I love you, Detroit! etc.) In my shady, suspicious and cynical world, making such an assumption is what my dad called: Jumping to contusions. Many on-air presenters, including myself, however, would have no difficulty at all in appreciating how approaching an audience for a group-grope is an extraordinarily weak strategy. Other professional broadcasters will insist that Im saying Radio is not a personal medium. I say, Au contraire. Of course its a personal medium and how could it not be? Individuals are the ones doing the listening and the tuning out. My premise is: There is no Personal Listener! The former is a comment about the audience. The latter is about the speakers perceptions.

The working alternative Solution, even - was introduced, but not fully explained, in an earlier Radio Ink blog, ironically titled Who Are You Really Talking To Out There? Meanwhile, this offering is also a working demonstration of the premise. I have no idea whatsoever of any individual who might be considering these words, in what environment or of what gender or race they may be. I also have no knowledge of their religious or political affiliations, corporate position, geographical location, personal attitudes, education or anything else. Because this is a Radio Ink presentation, I can presume that most have some connection to the Radio business.

With those restrictions in mind, I am obliged, instead, to write in a more respectful and in-direct manner. I am tendering my considerations in this piece by using the following words: broadcaster, performers, Talent, readers, purveyors, Personality, Jock, presenters, manager and individual.

All of those (Third Person) references could have been as easily replaced with a (Second Person) reference - You. However, by doing so, I would have likely and unnecessarily agitated or alienated even more readers. I mean: Its enough that the content alone is generating a share of angst and criticism.

Explanation: Those readers who could personally identify with the (Third Person) references did. Those who didnt identify with them were still able to accept the content as information. But, none were forced, encouraged or obliged to accept that which wasnt relative for themselves.

Of course I am intentionally and with kind intentions, presenting the beginning of: A New Paradigm for Radio. Some people can get quite animated and enthusiastic about a new paradigm  but only until its the one that T-bones them in the middle of the intersection. (But, Officer! I was on my cell phone and couldnt see the stop sign or hear the transport that took me out. I want him arrested!)

Indeed, as listeners, we need another truck load of inappropriate, inaccurate and irritating incursions into our realities like The Sheik needs more burning sand.

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

(9/7/2013 5:16:11 PM)
pGn9gC Im obliged for the article post.Really thank you! Will read on...

- NY
(11/10/2011 8:24:44 AM)
Meanwhile, it is not I who is making a claim for the existence of a Personal Listener or that there is a necessity for and/or a value in applying the principle.

It is incumbent, I submit, on those who insist on the premise to provide the evidence that accepting and using the strategy doesn't alienate more listeners than it attracts. Plus, given how important this issue might be... compelling evidence would be nice, too.

Although delivered in a shabby, slanderous and disrespectful manner, the comments (below) have tweaked an idea.

In the next piece for Radio Ink, I will be expanding on The Personal Listener-concept and figuratively testing where that might take us.

Most professionals, I would hope, might be open to considering the challenges.

- Ronald T. Robinson
(11/9/2011 5:09:58 PM)
My goodness! Not only were those last comments cheap, nasty, superfluous and delivered behind a vacuous pseudonym, they were inaccurate. How could anyone pull those kinds of numbers for that long in so many different stations and formats by doing straight Boss Jock repetitions? Would that it twoud that it twere. We wouldn't have a devastated medium.

I'll leave it to others to determine the legitimacy and accuracy of the rest of my comments.

I will, however, respond to one of the critical quotes: "Is it not the job of the communicator to put him/her self into the shoes of the listening public? To imagine where they are, what they're doing, and what they 're thinking about? YES, it is."

My response: No. It is not! The ability to mind-read or know the experience of any or all listeners is impossible. Making the claim generates gross inaccuracies tumbling from the gaping maws of those who make the attempt.

Further, and this may not come up again for awhile... Run-on sentences and offering an overwhelming amount of information fairly quickly has an overloading effect that can be exploited and come in quite handy sometimes.

- Ronald T. Robinson
(11/9/2011 3:11:13 PM)
Ron- please, read what you wrote here. Your use of the english language is, to say the least, a little loose. When you say 'purveying' do you mean 'surveying?' Because to purvey is to sell or make something available. To survey is to scan or oversee. Incidentally, the sentence which contains the word is fully four lines. A classic run-on sentence if ever there was one.

When you say 'influential' do you mean they have influence? You seem to be mixing your tenses in that sentence.

Why do you assume that all people who listen to radio are reacting in the manner you assume when you say 'making claims the listener is having experiences which the majority are not.' How do you know? Is it not the job of the communicator to put him/her self into the shoes of the listening public? To imagine where they are, what they're doing, and what they 're thinking about? YES, it is.

You go on to suggest that listeners are only barely tolerating any air talent that has the temerity to indulge in the practice of one-to-one communication. Another dangerously loose, un-supportable, and preposterous generalization. What empirical evidence can you point to that would suggest you are right? People like you are the very worst kind; making broad righteous statements with nothing but hot air to back them up. Please - spare us your empty generalizations.

I have heard you on the air Ron. You never said a single thing other than big-voice call letters, the time, and your name. Is that how it's supposed to be? You had no personality on the air whatsoever. How is that supposed to stem the tide of users going to other services?

Tell you what. Here's a new credo for you. Never say with a thousand words what can be said with one. It will make your ravings less confusing, righteous, and out-right wrong.


- withheld

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