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Ron Robinson

Talent - The Only Option


That Music Radio remains solidly perched on the bottom rung of the professional media ladder is no secret. How we got here is no mystery, either. This was no accident. It came about as the result of ownership drastically diminishing their product - their services - to the point where most all of them became indistinguishable from each other and the product less effective and less desirable.

As broadcasters, however, we are fortunate to still be in a position to heave  sighs of relief as these strategies have yet to kill our horses. Stations do continue to survive and, in many cases, prosper. The rest could be considered as semi-healthy scratches.

Talent, meanwhile, has been diluted to a degree where even the term "Talent" is sometimes an embarrassing misnomer. After 10:00 AM, Talent tends to  disappear from the local, Music Radio-scenario. Even though Talent does have a responsibility to conduct them selves in a professional manner and have rejected any obligation to continue their professional educations, they are still less responsible for the decline than those who have more control and authority. They did, however, participate in the collusion.

Here's my first point: There is almost no benefit in bereaving the decline of Music Radio as a social or commercial force or expecting that Music Radio, as a single entity, will wake up and change its ways. That’s a lost opportunity and it’s over. However, there are tremendous opportunities for those who are engaged in the Radio business to establish a model-of-broadcasting that will - in fairly short shrift – overrun and dominate the markets they serve.

My fantasy is that one or two major operations will: a.) Realize there is an opportunity here to own it all! b.) Begin making inquiries about how this can be accomplished. And, c.)  Consider appreciating that the training and education of Talent and Programmers - both new and used - is the key to gaining more

credibility, more influence, more acceptance and the ongoing support of a given station from an audience that hungers for a viable, intriguing, informative, entertaining and credible, local broadcast source.

As of this writing and to my knowledge, no group of Programmers, Researchers, Consultants or even intelligent ownerships have yet to come to these conclusions. Maybe it has something to do with swamps and alligators. And let's not forget the toxic influences of established Radio Dogma and Herd Behaviors.

There is nothing wrong, meanwhile, with abandoning the "swamp", The Dogma or the herd, and choosing to build on “higher ground” - getting on with the business of complete and utter market domination. (“Und zen tomorrow… if ve are not too bissy - za vorldt!”)

A reminder might be in order here of what it takes to be a successful Major Market Personality-today. These points just happen to be the same for medium and small markets, too. No station, because of market size, gets a card that reads: “Not Responsible For Shoddy Service”.

- Big Talents have learned the nuances of satire. They have the ability to write and re-write material before it hits the air.
- They have acquired the comfort and confidence to "wing it" on a semi-regular basis - and pull it off.
- They have developed multiple vocal approaches to being on the air.
- They have developed "comedic timing" to a degree that a "bit" sounds like an ad lib and not a prepared statement, but still carries the impact of a punch line.
- They are as familiar with any number of social issues and events as anyone in the station.
- They have histories and lives of their own and are able to relate portions of their experiences in interesting, compelling and sometimes humorous ways.
- They have the capacity to communicate their own humanity - and are willing to do so.
- They have multiple interests besides Radio and find ways to sneak those in.
- They have a better than average command of the English language and are not relying mainly on jargon.
- They may or may not have a great interest in The Music the station is featuring. If they don't – few in the audience would notice or care.
- They read and are able to engage others in conversation.
- They can summon their own "creativity" by simply walking into the Control Room.
- They have an ample number of opportunities to engage their audiences during a broadcast hour and are prepared to do so.
- They have an excellent intuition of where “The Line” is and how to stick a toe or two over it – to the anxious, sphincter-clenching chagrin of management and the delight of the audience.
- They have enough self-control to carry on in a professional manner even when slugs and thugs are interfering in the process - thus avoiding lawyer's fees and incarceration for something "the guy had coming anyway".

Now I appreciate I have just described a super-star Super Jock – a rare breed indeed that mostly enjoys support in Major Markets. Yet, that's exactly – to some degree - what an Every Market audience requires for that audience to become engaged. If we were talking about medical practitioners, mechanical service-people, plumbers and electricians or any other trade, the standards of performance would be as high no matter what size of market they were serving. There are no longer what could be described as “unsophisticated markets”. There are, however, many unsophisticated broadcasters.  These (above) are attributes that no amateur, part-timer or V/T-meister can muster – without significant training and preparation - in any radio market. The inescapable conclusion to providing a remedy for this situation is in the training or re-training of much, much stronger broadcast communicators. This applies to every day part. This is also a circumstance that will not be overcome by any arbitrary dropping in of more content or local references.

Fortunately, a more viable alternative to that of making Major Talent appear magically by applying the “Poof Technique”, is: Investing in the re-training of those available performers – and in the recruitment of others - who are willing and excited to continue their education in broadcast communicative skills, techniques and strategies. Becoming more skilled, engaged and influential Broadcast Communicators is a worthwhile effort. It is consistent with what could emerge as a noble, exciting and worthwhile vocation for a grown up. After all these years of the suppression and degradation of Talent-supplied services, contemporary Music Radio has some serious clawing back in which to engage and endure. That is, if there is to be a continuing place in the media landscape for us. Corporately mandated, provided, continuing Talent-education would be a First – for our business. It may also be, for many owners and management – a completely foreign concept. I am satisfied, however, that some broadcasters are beginning to consider these issues as: Matters of Significant Consequence.

Massive improvements in the skill-levels of all on-air Talent is now absolutely required – in every market. Plus, it will be necessary for them to participate much, much more often in every hour. There are no viable, useful alternatives.

Read more articlde from Ron HERE

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