Vanilla Radio

mrmEvery once in awhile a radio article comes out that is bang-on about personality radio. This is one of them. Mark Ramsey, a radio guru, shares his thoughts on why your morning show might not be working. I’d argue, his thoughts on personality apply to all dayparts. Some highlights for me:

  • Because they’re just not that good It’s true! Radio managers are not famous for spotting and nurturing talent. And a corollary: Being good is hard! There’s a reason why Howard Stern was fired all the way to the top. There’s a reason why it’s a safer bet to plug in Ryan Seacrest than to take a chance on somebody nobody knows (for better or worse). There’s a reason why the freshest young voice with the most unique point of view prefers to launch a YouTube channel rather than work their way up the long, hard slog of the radio ladder. Radio fans know what they like and what they don’t like and everything else is likely to fall in the vast, bland, vanilla middle. And while that vast, bland, vanilla middle can be tweaked with a bit of coaching or a new producer, there’s an old saying: “You can’t polish a turd.”


  • Because they’re DJ’s and not humans While there’s something comforting about a human voice on the radio, not every human voice appears to be actually human. I’m not talking about voice-tracking here, I’m talking about content. Humans are beings with three dimensions – strengths and weaknesses, flaws, and blemishes. All on display. When those dimensions are not on display in a movie we call the character “shallow.” And nobody (willingly) makes friends with shallow beings (although we’re happy to laugh at their expense in Reality TV).


  • Because management doesn’t want a great morning show, they want a cheap morning show to be great Too often, we’re not aiming for greatness, we’re aiming for great cheapness. Well, that’s not how Jimmy Fallon got the Tonight Show gig and that’s not how great radio talent is born. We fool ourselves into thinking that the cheap voice can be the better voice if only the audience catches on. And then we are disappointed when they never do. This is not to say you always get what you pay for, but you certainly never get what you don’t pay for. I recently ran into an old radio friend – a former morning host – now long out of the business. He was approached by a station in his market to do a weekend gig – live. And for this he would be paid what he described as “the kind of money I made just out of school.” Either he will say “no,” or the station will get from him what it’s paying for, which is exactly what it wants and much less than it pretends it wants.


  • Because “liking them” and “listening to them” are two different things Your new morning host may be a great guy and a model citizen, but if I’ve got twenty minutes of drive-time I intend to spend it with the most compelling, entertaining, or informative morning show I can find, not with an audio Boy Scout.

What do you think? Full article here.




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