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Ron Robinson

Consult, Train or Neither

(by Ronald T. Robinson)

Blistering criticisms that fall on deaf ears had better supply some benefits to the one offering the abuse. Otherwise and as my experience suggests, only when alternatives are also being put forward is there any point at all to tabling the critiques. The pervasive wail of Radio sucks and its because those guys have gutted it! even though certainly, partially accurate, does little more than adjust the heart-rate and blood pressure gauges in an upward direction.

In fairness, while the corporate pirates were boarding and claiming the local boats and the booty while throwing the crews overboard, the extremely miffed parties under attack have been making no provisions to fend the buggers off or devise methods to retaliate. To the contrary, many are prepared to simply surrender. This is completely understandable, particularly for those who presume they have no alternatives, resources or the gumption to put up a credible fight. And why would they? Many believe they have no possibility of winning.

While Corporate, Music Radio is being run by those with ice running in their veins even as they are dealing with a hot medium those people cannot, I submit, be charged with doing anything more than running their business by concentrating on the primary and core utility of Radio. That is: as an electronic platform for the distribution of advertising. Given that as the, shall we say, Mission Accomplished statement, they are free to concentrate only on that faculty of Radio and conduct their business as they see fit. That the rest of us have opinions about that premise and its future is irrelevant to the corporate owners.

Meanwhile, how bizarre it is that, even while the venom is being poured on the (alleged) robber barons, so many other ownership groups do the only reasonable thing they can do and emulate them!

Meanwhile, I want to thank those who have taken the time to respond to some of my comments by reaching me directly through my email. A number have voiced surprise that they are not confronted with the web page of a Radio Consultant. Rather, they are greeted with a small site offering V/O services.

However, yes, I have done the Radio consultancy-thing and found it to be a very unsatisfactory experience, particularly because of the depth and amount of material I have to cover in order for me to deliver a significant improvement in the experience of my client(s).

Sure, its easy and extremely profitable to pull off a one or two-day Seagull Seminar. What that amounts to is: I fly in; cover everybody with an overwhelming amount of (what at first seems to be) weird and toxic crap; say, Thanks for comin out! and fly right back out again. The real-life reality includes that attendees are, indeed, stunned, overwhelmed and only partially understanding of the material. Plus, even with good intentions utterly fail to implement anything we have covered. All this results in a somewhat better informed, but then - an even more frustrated staff and a management who doesnt know or appreciate what was covered because they failed to show up. I pick up thousands of extra dollars and the knowledge that I am the only one who has been served.

Besides, as it turns out, Im no Consultant. I am and have been aware of so many Radio Consultants who have been missing the point for so long, its as if there never was a point in the first place. Further, I have little respect for those consultants who refuse to celebrate, support and enhance the Talent if there are any consultants left who really do know how to go about any of that. More often, consultants approach Talent as if they were mere pawns on a chessboard. That is, available, replaceable, of limited value and, therefore, expendable. Essentially, Talent is worthy only of a few overused editing platitudes. But mostly, Talent is worthy of contempt. While an old and weary clich, deck chairs still serves as the useful analogy as it applies to a number of consultants. (Plus, the introduction of one more pie chart may be just cause for having to summon the authorities.)

Im a Trainer, a Coach and/or a Counselor depending on the needs of the client. Further, my whole premise as it applies to Radio is about an advanced re-education and re-training of Talent. Yes, and that includes those who are already brilliant performers. There is more to broadcast communications than those intuitions and behaviors that people bring with them as they enter into or toil at the business. A great deal more. The lack of it shows, too.  My previous rants on The Personal Listener represent only an opening salvo. (No contrary evidence has yet been presented.)

Training, unlike a seminar-event, is a process. Training is not delivered as a one or two-day experience or as a 2-dollar, downloaded app. Training takes a commitment from all concerned parties, time, effort, practice and more of that until the student and management-client gets it and incorporates it into their stations protocol. Further, when I am working with each of my own clients, I stay with them until they do get it and they have incorporated the new learnings into their behaviors.

Still, even as Radio continues to gut the Talent-base and refuses to enhance the skills of those who remain or go out of their way to encourage and develop new Talent, a bystander can only wonder what results could they be expecting other than those they have been generating.

Its a good thing I also have other skills and interests because I have yet to meet a management group who is willing to enter into a training regimen for their staffs. Why, I wonder, would they even consider it when their priorities are those of finding ways to under-serve their audiences and advertisers by either suppressing or simply getting rid of the Talent. (Why feed em, dress em up and teach em to do tricks if were just going to throw them overboard anyway?) Valid point.

If Radio other than Corporate, Music Radio is going to compete well and possibly even dominate their markets, they have no alternative other than to upgrade their products and services to a degree where audiences and advertisers will be lining up to participate.

And that is going to take the efforts of a much more highly skilled and motivated Talent-base. The irony is in that so many managers and yes, a number of the Talent continue in holding the position that there are no alternatives and there are no solutions.

Fortunately, they are mistaken.

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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