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(TALENT) Seven Percent Say What!?


Seven percent of available advertising revenue is the share radio has been able to secure for longer than anybody can remember. Bringing that little tidbit of info up at a meeting of radio leadership might be about as welcome as breaking wind at a wedding. As everybody in this business knows already: We have hit the wall. Were tapped out.

To be sure, radio executives fret over ways in which their own outfits might gain a greater share of that seven percent. Yet, an overall increase for the medium is just a silly fantasy maybe a topic for blue skying." I suspect this is only a momentary diversion. There are buyers, after all, and meanwhile, to grind today.

Like parishioners in the pews who are more bent on figuring the over-unders on the afternoons games than attending to the sermon, leadership of radio may well be considered a thoroughly disengaged and disingenuous audience. After all, the owners, for the most part, enjoy an enviable lifestyle; they have figured out ways to keep shareholders numbed and at bay, and considerations of audiences and advertisers have become less than necessary issues for contemplation.

Seven percent of available advertising revenue is an embarrassing amount when one allows for the fact we are the oldest and still the most pervasive electronic medium ever developed. Plus, in relative terms, our creative is the least expensive to produce as is our programming.

So, one might be forgiven for asking: How come? Its a legitimate question, but only if it comes from someone who is not in radio. Those of us who are in the business have known the answer for decades. It lies in the withholding of improvements in programming and creative. And thats presenting the matter with some gentility. The more accurate response would be along the lines of: Radios failure to further penetrate their markets beyond seven percent is as a direct result of the conscious suppression of talent and creative at every conglomerate and every local station.

I spoke to a well-known and extremely credible expert in the field who included in his comments that station managers just dont care about these issues. It is worthwhile to consider why it is these executivesjust dont care. I am thoroughly convinced the position is representative of a combination of deeper, separate matters. Those being: 1/ Leadership believes that everything there is to know about radio is already known; 2/ Leadership believes any improvements that might/could be made would be too expensive to generate and/or would not be worth the effort.

When I was being trained to do personal counseling, it was demonstrated to everyones satisfaction that none of us had the ability to do any mind reading. (This, by the way, is something of which radio talent is universally guilty what with their telling me what I want, where I am, what Im doing and, yes, sometimes what I am thinking. Of course, 99 percent of the time they are dead wrong and seem foolish. But that doesnt seem to stop them. This is another example of how one-to-one not only doesnt work, but has an extremely toxic, cumulative affect.)

Anyway, back to mind reading the executives. During my training, we were taught how to do a little speculation with a better chance of some accuracy. It was framed around the question: What does a person have to believe about themselves, other people, or their environment in order for belief-X or behavior-Y to be in play? From that, it is a little easier to speculate about the two positions (above) that are likely to be held by radio leadership. It is, after all, a fact that no steps are being taken to address improvements in programming and creative production. It is also a fact that inquiries are not being made. A further fact is that the status quo of programming and creative production have not been challenged at the highest levels of radio management for decades.

Adding the digital components that radio is being forced to embrace at some level of participation only compounds the issues that will have to be addressed. From this chair, the ironies are many and profound. Its like the whole industry is being treated to multiple games of Pin the Tail on the Donkey." Blindfolded first, we are spun round and round and then released to find the burros behind with our best efforts. All we end up accomplishing is the barfing part. We still cant find our own butt. Never mind the donkeys.

Todays on-air talent, for the most part, are not only weak presenters, they are horribly inept as broadcast communicators." Even those extremely talented individuals the rare ones who are on the air may be marvelous performers, but they're still severely lacking as broadcast communicators.

Although it may not seem so, I am not solely in blaming mode." Im also in identification mode." Im more than willing obliged even to cut talent and management some slack here. It would be unreasonable to criticize them for not appreciating the distinction if they dont know there is a distinction.

One of the smartest and most articulate men in broadcasting whom I have ever known a guy I call The bard of the western badlands," succinctly put it this way: If ya git bit by a rattlesnake and don know it was a rattlesnake, you still gonna die.

Thats also a pretty fair analogy for the delusions under which radio has been operating for a very long time. Antidotes and other treatments, however, are available. None of them include sucking out the poison. It will, however, be necessary to ride into town and at ones own expense.

Indeed, managements positions on the seven percent situation could be framed as one of: "So, what? Whatever."

Of course, if there is no interest in making significant improvements to programming and creative production and even less interest in getting beyond that seven percent, the disinterested are free to continue playing with and teasing the reptiles for as long as that lasts.

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

(10/15/2012 5:18:29 PM)
While I have no idea what you're going on about, bob, or what your comments have to do with the content I presented, I will take the opportunity to suggest that Radio is no position of any "entitlement" whatsoever.
One could make the argument - just for sport, of course - that Radio is lucky to be getting the seven percent it does enjoy, particularly given the shoddy state of creative and production offerings that radio has been passing off as "advertising" for so many years.

- Ronald T. Robinson
(10/15/2012 5:09:03 PM)
This is another column so misdirected in its thinking, that it warranted a response. First, pundits writng here need to stop demonstrating the obnoxious "sense of entitlement" that radio "deserves" a bigger share of ad dollars, or higher rates, or whatever. What ANY customer ( ad agency or account) will spend with ANY vendor (including a radio station(s)) is based on...RETURN ON THEIR INVESTMENT! Get it?!...And it is NOT what we think the station is worth,
but what the advertiser thinks!

- bob

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