SHUT UP AND PLAY THE MUSIC!

by Doug Erickson

It's radio's version of the chicken and the egg.

Which came first -- liner-driven radio or boring disc jockeys?

At this point, it may not matter. We've trained two generations of listeners to believe that what is said between songs is not worth their attention or time.

The truth is, there are far too many jocks on the air with nothing to say who don't realize it. There are too many gimmicky morning shows with dinging bells and raucous laughter that are completely irrelevant to the lives of most listeners. And there are too many PDs who ignore it all and hide behind their Selector screens.

When given a choice of listening to someone who is boring and doesn't realize it, or listening to a song, the song will win every time. But stations built to be nothing but jukeboxes with liners dropped in every other song have never been more vulnerable. They've got a terminal disease ... and they don't even know it.

The reality is, most of the people on the air in any city in America aren't very good. I'm not talking technically. I'm talking about relevance, entertainment, unpredictability and remark-ability.

I'm talking about basic talent.

Be honest. When you analyze your own staff, how many are truly talented entertainers? How many have Oprah-like charisma? How many have the knowledge and wit to entertain an educated listener every break?

Isn't that why you shut them up and force them to read liners?

But don't you now see that all that's done is reinforce what listeners already heard: boring, irrelevant, chest-thumping crap that has nothing at all to do with their lives.

It's time to reinvest in talent, in all dayparts, and to train PDs to coach them on content.

The stuff between the songs has never been so important, and if you're not making it your priority, you're about to get whacked.

It's time to entertain again.