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Ron Robinson

Its The Law


Because everybody in music radio already knows how the Second Law of Thermodynamics can stand as a fairly decent metaphor for our current situation, we might consider some of the consequences. The more significant and applicable element of this law can be put in laymans terms. This is a relief, since I am one.

One of my earlier epiphanies happened when somebody said, Gravity sucks! Only then did I have even a meager grasp of the concept. And so it is with the Second Law. Essentially, and to paraphrase a portion, this Second Law also demonstrates that: whatever is going on in a closed system is on a journey to nothingness (entropy) through a process of chaos.

Radio managers, however, can still remain in their seats. There is no need for panic. Nor do they need to be grabbing their gold and weapons and dashing for their bunkers. The Second Law applies only to closed systems, of which radio is not one. Although radio folk tend to treat it as one immune to outside influences and non-accepting to anything that is internally generated. If something new, different or innovative is offered from an internal resource, there is a mandate to crush it instantly. This pervasive  behavior of radio-types refusing to accept outside and inside influences comes in numerous colors all of which can be described as a sickly shade of institutional green.

Isaac Newton identified another natural phenomenon that can also apply to radio. Besides inventing calculus and, in so doing, scaring the bejeezus out of generations of potentially terrific students of mathematics, he is also famous for that gravity thingie.

Based on gravitational law, it can be postulated that radio has stopped attracting greater revenue and audience-loyalty in bigger numbers because of the waning amount of mass radio has been experiencing. Less mass means less gravity resulting in less attraction. Thanks for that, Ike. That part, I get. As to momentum: Don get me started.

The ways in which we have been experiencing this loss of mass and momentum include the self-imposed destruction of our talent-base in all sectors of radio. Talent on-the-air, talent in creative, and talent in programming have all been decimated either through direct intention, collusion, or acquiescence on the part of ownership and management. Theres nothing like either the limiting or eliminating of the quality of products and services being rendered to take the mass and momentum out of any element, process, or enterprise.

The Law of Diminishing Returns, meanwhile, can be represented as follows: The tendency for a continuing application of effort or skill toward a particular project or goal to decline in effectiveness after a certain level of result has been achieved. Radio has embraced this principle and put even more oomph into it. Radio has made it policy to diminish the actual implementation of both the skills and the efforts that were applied in earlier times. And yet, irritating whining and sniveling about not telling our story continues to permeate corporate offices.

Meanwhile, Donny Osmond is a talented and skilled professional performer who doesn't need me to give him that. He's got work a great gig, to be more precise. I have little doubt, however, that he is all that remorseful about packing in his syndicated radio show. Osmonds retirement from the patronizing, juvenile approach that was scripted for him and that he was obliged to read, only leaves the stations' slots open for another form of milquetoast(y) blather. Shame on the stations that carried the show in the first place the same ones that will, in due course, be accepting some other maudlin replacement. The Law of Diminishing Returns strikes again. Do we really want those programming fiascos to be elements of The Story?

Sir Isaacs Third Law of Motion possibly the most recognizable of his discoveries states: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Radio-types might want to consider that law as they withdraw the talent and skills necessary to generate programming that can attract and maintain an audience. They might heed this law when they continue withholding the talent and skills necessary to generate the commercials required to motivate listeners on behalf of the advertisers who are paying all the freight.

There is no need for anybody in radio to be as smart as Ike Newton in order to come into compliance with the laws mentioned above and others that have not been offered here, but are still in play. It would be helpful, though, for them to demonstrate an ability to recognize a freight train for what it is when its thundering into sight. This could be important when one considers radios bus is stalled at the crossing and right on the tracks. The clanging bells might serve as clues and cues.

Further, there is Charles Darwins Theory of Evolution. The general public has misunderstood one of the aspects of evolutionary theory. He never described the success of a species as being because of its strength. We hear it as some combination of survival of the strongest or fittest. However, it was more about the survival of the species that could best adapt to its environment.

Music radio has been unwilling and unable to make the effort to adapt to the environment. Instead, we behave as if the environment doesnt even exist. Sometimes we accept that we are operating in some other mediums environment. Delusion can make for an interesting hobby, but not a vocation. Unless we begin a serious program of education and re-training, we are left dangerously at the mercy of the most common of the other known Laws of Physics, namely, Murphys.

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

(2/19/2013 5:08:47 PM)
Thanks, Steve. I think I finally got it. ("Is this going to be on the test...?") :)

- Ronald T. Robinson
(2/19/2013 2:24:41 PM)
A colleague of mine once stated the laws of thermodynamics as:

1) You can't win.

2) You can't even break even.

3) You have to play.

- Steve

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