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Ron Robinson

Live And Yokel


It’s years later, and the discussion still sputters along. Ownership and management continue contemplating the notion that if newer technologies aren’t going to save their bacon, then the application of a “live and local” strategy might. There is still confusion on what “local” really means. Does it mean local references or local talent? Both? It won’t matter, anyway. “Live and local” will be a bust – painfully expensive, too.
Given the amount of money I am about to encourage music radio management and ownership to keep, it would be kind of them to send me bonus-dollars by way of Interac transfers to my email. I will be grateful. Of course, I urge them to be generous – and feel great about it.
First, we can talk a little about content – local content. That would include information exclusively about the local market. It could be as mundane as geographical references or as specific as some local history – information that only someone with an intimate knowledge of the market could deliver. Local sports, social events and the like may be of some value, but that would require serious consideration of the size of the market and the target audience. We could call this the “hard content” – strictly local information.
“Soft content” would be about delivery, from an individual who is “live” and whose broadcast originates from a local station. This concerns talents’ on-air presentations, entailing everything they say, and how they say it! This includes references to local content, out-of-market content, comments on music, and whatever personal observations they might also provide.
If music radio is to make any progress, it will be significantly dependent on how well the talent is performing, how much time they are on-air, and how often they crack the microphone. I claim that very little will be accomplished until the talent is working often – as often as it takes for one tune to end or one, two-minute spot set to conclude. Any longer waiting periods than that and audiences wander off or become indifferent to the talent’s participation.
Now, if that concept doesn’t strike terror into the hearts of every PD or manager reading this, let’s think of it this way: I invite any manager to consider their current on-air lineup. Next, they can wonder what would happen if those same folks were doing what they do now, nine or 10 times an hour, occasionally for as long as two or three minutes. (It would likely be less, but this is, after all, the scary, vomit-producing part of the article.)
Still, it gets worse. If “live and local” is going to be the strategy, more talent is going to have to be recruited, thrown on the air for all day-parts, get paid, and then assisted through whatever rehab they might need to stay engaged. (This is so very exciting, is it not?) To those who are beginning to appreciate the ramifications of such a strategy, I can only encourage them to enhance their solemnity and to understand these revelations are for everyone’s ultimate benefit.
Whether major, medium, or small market, I’m speculating that fully 85 percent of all on-air talent has no business being behind a broadcast microphone. They are simply not qualified. They are inept now, and they are not getting any better. They may as well be on the corner, pickin’ their teeth with a carpet tack, and singin’ “Polly Wolly Doodle” all the day. Entertaining, informing, or influencing a broadcast audience is not included in their skill-sets.
Of a hundred on-air folks, maybe a dozen would be considered as somewhat appealing. Then there are a few who are the stars – clever, witty, articulate, and personable. I spell the scenario out so managers will avoid going off on recruiting sprees without an understanding of what they will be bringing on themselves. Avoiding doling out copious chunks of cash in a fruitless and possibly devastating exercise, is all I am suggesting.
The possibility of re-hiring some of the personalities who have been trashed over the years may also come under scrutiny. Would it be a worthwhile plan to resurrect these people? As a loyal, paid-up member of the I.O.D.J. (International Order of Disc Jockeys), it pains me to report that it would not be a terrific strategy. The exception would be only if the talents qualify as being among the top two or three percent – proven hitters. Maybe.
I remind astute readers it is the “soft content,” the presentations, that are going to propel music radio into the future – if it is to have a future of any significance. I am also aware that to talk about music radio as an integrated industry – even as it does share and apply all the same dogma – is not useful. What is worthy of consideration is the future of single organizations or a few small, medium, or larger outfits that are lead by more enlightened individuals.
Meanwhile, I am compelled to reveal my own position on these matters. So critically important is the injection and application of exciting, new, and effective communication techniques and methodologies to broadcast presenters, that in my little, fantasy world, If I haven’t trained them, they aren’t ready! Yes, I do amaze myself with my own perceived certainty and/or arrogance. I am not backing off the stance, either. I am fully prepared to enter the cage – with frilly shirt, riding breeches, boots, a chair, a whip, and a tazer. These are necessary props as already-abused talents hate to be forcibly re-trained, even by a handsome and nattily attired stranger.
Managers can now be extraordinarily appreciative of all the dough they will not have to spend recruiting more on-air staff; staff that will be unable to deliver the desired outcomes. By the way, maintaining the status quo is also unacceptable! Drat that, too! Nevertheless, my dad put the compensation issue quite succinctly when he said, “Instead of praising or applauding – throw money.”

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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