One of the greatest artists of all time, Sam Cook, sang, “It’s been a long time comin’, but a change is gonna come.” For radio programmers, that song should be in power rotation.
Unfortunately for the future of our business, most programmers are so out of touch with their audience, that this commentary…and the reality that is behind it…is incomprehensible to them. Programmers spend little time with their audience…most none at all. Few spend time listening to music. The two elements that are most important to the wellbeing of any radio station…the audience and the music…are the two elements most often missing in the life and times of the modern day programmer.
Today’s programmers are too busy meeting with the sales people, clients or involved in corporate planning sessions. They’re losing touch…and losing audience…at rates equal to each other.
Here’s a question aimed at today’s programmer. Do you have an iPod? If you don’t, get one today. Find out how to use it. More importantly, find out how your audience uses it. When you do that, find a dark closet to hide in while you shake and cry.
I’m certainly not anywhere close to the target demo for most programmers. (Of course, take a lot at most programmers and they aren’t either.) But because of the business I’m in and the lifestyle I lead, I’m probably closer in tune with the prime demographic than most of my age and experience.
Young people today are hooked on instant communication (cell phones, computers and two-ways) and downloading music. The iPod…and other products like it…are the future of music…and the future is now. As the cost comes down, more and more people are going to be using mobile devices to scratch their musical itch. And radio will suffer for it.
Radio programmers are still suffering under delusions. Most believe that if they keep doing what they’ve been doing, everything will be okay. Define okay. If eroding audiences and lack of relevancy are the definition of okay, you’re on the right track.
Give me a break.
Today’s music junkies get their fix from satellite delivery and downloadable music. I have over 5,400 songs on my computer, all downloaded legally from purchased CDs or from the Apple Music Store. My iPod handshakes with my home computer system and my car audio system. I can create my own play list with no commercials. Why would I, or anyone else, want to listen to radio?
Radio stations play “safe” music. Most programmers still cling to the notion that overplaying songs is the key to success. What’s the joke? Today’s radio stations play little part in the lives of today’s audience because it is irrelevant to their musical tastes. Stations that play the same songs over and over again are irrelevant. If I want to hear that, I can program it myself…with just my favorites over and over again…without interruptions.
What’s the answer? One is a change in the way stations are programmed. PDs have to change their thought process and aim their stations toward the needs of their audience. Today’s radio stations must be on the cutting edge of exposing new product. Today’s radio stations must lead the way in helping the audience find new music and the new stars of today…and tomorrow. Personalities must become relevant. Forget about being cool. First of all…they aren’t. Personalities should be held responsible for their content. Each should be charged with finding facts about new and developing artists so they can share that information with the audience. If radio can help the audience find the new music they’re waiting to download, then radio become relevant again.
The same lame jocks trying to be hip and another 10-in-a-row promo won’t get it done.
The audience has changed…and is changing even as you read this. It’s time for radio to make those changes or become increasingly more irrelevant.
“It’s been a long time comin’, but a change is gonna come.” In radio’s case, a change “had” to come.