“What are you NOT doing?,” my dad would say as he entered his teenage son’s room.
What I WAS doing was evident to him. Often nothing. He wanted to know the more important answer… that I WASN’T mowing the yard, that I WASN’T doing my homework, that I WASN’T, in his words, “making something of myself.”
An extremely well-known morning show host once said about his team show, “We just have a conversation. The listeners just eavesdrop.”
I know that’s what he honestly believed, but it’s an incomplete thought. However, since they were quite successful, a lot of people thought that was right. Here’s why it’s not:
The ratings arrive. Our emotions react. There is running up and down the hallways and gnashing of teeth!
I’ve heard some pretty wacky ways that people have reacted to ratings. Moving the deejays’ shifts around, playing music from another format, and implementing formatics that make the station sound less distinctive and more generic.
“I’M NOT MAKING THIS UP,” as Dave Barry would say.
Making programming decisions based solely upon ratings is like driving with a GPS that shows only where you’ve been.
If you want to make contact with the listener instantly, you don’t talk about yourself first.
For some reason, this concept that I’ve been teaching for over twenty years gives people problems. Because in real life, it’s natural to talk to a friend by starting with yourself (“I saw this movie the other night…”), we assume that this is the way radio conversations should begin.
But that’s not very effective, because (1) often – most of the time, actually – the reaction is “So? What does that have to do with Me?” And (2) real-life conversations are face-to-face. Radio isn’t.
It’s a thing in my family. We play cards and board games and stuff. Vacations are planned with that fierce evening competition in mind.
The problem with these games is that you only really know what is right before you.
You only know the card that has just been played, or the next move, but NOT what the eventual impact it will have on the outcome of the game.
Programming a station can sometimes feel that way.