Why Is It?

7/17/1998

Every week I sit behind the keyboard of my computer and try to “wow” the industry with my innovative words of wisdom.  Sometimes, I agonize for days on the subject of my Editorial.  Other times the ideas and words flow like the waters of the Mississippi River.  On rare occasions, I hit a complete block.  Like now. I could hide behind the easy writer’s crutch and write about the agonies of penning a weekly column.  Every deadline author has used this crutch at some point.  It’s an easy way out.  It’s not in my nature to take the easy way out.  Besides, why should I torture myself writing an Editorial for people who basically don’t read?  In an informal survey of programmers and record executives taken earlier this year, less than 5% had read three books in the past 12 months.  That in itself could be the subject of an Editorial.  But I digress. I find it interesting that the Editorials I spend the most time preparing are generally met with apathy, yet the ones I throw together at the last minute generate the most feedback.  Why is that?

Thus, the subject of this week’s Editorial.  I have no defining topic, just a potpourri of thoughts that have been on and off my mind for the past few weeks.

Why is it that our business is more about maintaining the status quo than striking out in new, innovative directions?  It seems we are more satisfied with maintaining our position rather than conquering a new and exciting goal.  Copying an existing concept is easier than inventing a new plan.  It’s easier to sell.  Using an existing plan as a point of reference is a much easier sell than an innovative idea that could be much better.  A business based on the ever changing wants of the consumer should reward those executives who predict social change and think outside of the box.  Instead of creating an environment for a navy led by those made from the blood of Christopher Columbus, who set sail for the new world, we have spawned a legion of pirates who plunder on those who travel the normal routes.

Poignant, yet vague.

Why is it that we drive on a parkway and park on a driveway?

Why is it that promotion executives spend more time behind computers than in the face of programmers?  There is a reason your job is called promotion.  What happened to the times when JoJo the Dog Faced Boy, Little Egypt, dancing chickens, trained donkeys and other outlandish options were exercised to bring attention to a record?  Are we too focused on our place in the company hierarchy to make complete fools out of ourselves to get attention?  Are we over-thinking the image of our artists, and in the process losing sight of the main goal of promotion…to get the record played on radio?  Are we too cool to resort to smoke and mirrors when in the beginning, it’s all we have?

Why is it that the person in charge of the outdoors is called the Secretary of the Interior?

Why is it that we don’t have fun anymore? Is it just my imagination, or did the rebirth of superstar artists fade the moment we became more concerned about research printouts than the sound of music?  Is passion possible without fun?  No.  You get excited when you hear a great record…it’s fun.  Promotion and programming without excitement and fun are passionless…And in the end, meaningless.

Why is it that packages sent by ship are called cargo and those sent by land are called shipments?

Why is it that programmers and promotion executives bitch about R&R’s archaic methodology and leeching operations, yet continue to support the hypocrisy by paying service to the limited number of stations R&R allows (without any industry input) in its reporter base?  Quit complaining and wallow in the hypocrisy or change you way of doing business.  If you have any doubts as to my feelings about R&R, check any earlier Editorial.

Why is it that programmers don’t listen to music any more?  (See earlier paragraph about the lack of passion in our business.  The sword cuts across both industries.)

While I’m on the subject, why is it that promotion executives don’t listen to more music?  You can’t be successful in our business if you don’t know what’s going on in the music industry…not just inside the confines of your walls.  Arista president CliveDavis regularly listens to every record that hits the charts.  If you expect more of yourself, should you do less than Clive?

Why is it that if you say “shit” at a crap table, they throw you out of the casino?

Why is it that radio stations are still doing adds on Tuesday?  The day was arbitrarily picked in the 1960s because of two reasons:  (1)  Weekend sales reports were tabulated on Mondays and  (2)  stations made up “surveys” (including the chart, a picture of an air personality, etc.) that needed to be in the record stores on Friday.  It took three days to get the “surveys” printed and delivered.  Is anybody doing “surveys” anymore?  Do the local record stores care?  Every PD knows new records should be broken in at night and on the weekends.  It’s safer.  The only reason music is done on Tuesdays is to maintain an outdated status quo.  Who’s going to be the first to add records on Fridays?

Why is it that Hits isn’t responsible for any?  Why is it that we can’t see the forest for the trees?  (Are those last two questions the same?)

Why is that the head of Human Resources paid me a compliment by saying, “That color looks good on you,” yet had I said the same thing to her, it could have been harassment?

Why is it that beer is sold at gas stations, yet it’s illegal to drink and drive?

Why is it that programmers don’t listen to the competition?  Too often, programmers only pay attention to their own station while the people across the street are making changes that will impact the market.  Each day, you should listen to a different station.  You might learn something.

Why is it that we ask for requests, but never play anything that’s requested?

Why is it that birds suddenly appear every time you are near?

And as to the answer of the original question and its author.  We talked to your girlfriend, Kilgo.

It isn’t

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