Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Radio Industry vs. The Restaurant Industry

Obviously, you've noticed the downsizing of radio...there's a good chance you've been affected by it. You definitely have friends and colleagues who have.

Here's what I don't get, and what makes zero sense:

Yes, we're in "hard times." The economy is bad. Advertisers are spending less...

But what's the ONE thing you DON'T cut in any business? The product.

Yes, the product.

Think about it. When McDonald's has a tough year, do you suddenly get a BigMac with just one patty, along with the excuse that they are "cutting back to save costs?" Is your soda cup only halfway filled?

Same goes for any other business on the planet earth! Do you buy a new shirt at Old Navy that now comes with only half the buttons? "We're cuttin' back!" Or a car with no passenger seat. "Sorry, times are tough!" Of course not.

So why in the world does the radio industry think that we can do that and get away with it?

I get "cutting" in general. I own a small business. When times are lean, you spend less, and cut spending. But you don't cut the "product" or your customers will go elsewhere.

Radio can cut the 80% of other costs--advertising and marketing, salaries, support staff. But they made a mistake by cutting the product--what comes through the speakers.

We can't get away with it and we're not getting away with it, that's just the problem. Taking the very thing out of radio that makes it unique--the personality--is the reason why radio is dying in front of our very eyes.

See ya next week.


  1. Ditto here.

    Radio is like football when a team tries not to lose as opposed to trying to win. When you play not to lose, YOU LOSE.

    Remember when quarterbacks called their own plays? Now that was real football. Now radio is like today's quarterback, run the play (Songs) as we call them. While you are at it, run the plays exactly as we call them.

    Shame on radio.

    I don't listen anymore.

  2. Years ago when I lived in Washington, D.C., (actually Maryland suburbs), I had a pizza place (Good Guys) that had the best pizza I ever ate. I was hooked and ordered at least twice a week.

    One day I got a pizza that tasted weird and I went to the pizza shop and said what did you do the pizza? They said they now used different cheese that was at a better bulk price. They said it was the same quality. Guess what? It wasn't.

    They changed their product to something cheaper. Radio has done the same by providing us with a less costly and inferior product. They have eliminated the recipe for success by going to a cookie cutter approach. They need to go back and bring forward those elements that have been part of the recipe for success in radio.

    Let personalities have personality and let us hear the music that has a place in our hearts and not necessarily on the charts. Let our musical palate taste to good times again.

  3. Great analogies all around... A loss of creativity was replaced with Arbatron reading zombies. Not listening to the content on air or the listeners and more so listening to national sponsors and corporate america. With technology getting more and more advanced traditional radio will die soon and be reborn with a new generation on the internet.

    Great blog Dub!

  4. I remember the days when listeners and jocks were excited about the prizes given away. Recently, i heard a girl win an Xbox and her excitement was as energetic as winning an antenna ball. The jock sounded like he wasn't into it, and the listener sounded like it was nothing major.

    I remember the days when we would excite the listener about winning. I remember when we would hold creative contesting that kept other listeners glued to their ears to see who could win. Now? It's simple..."caller #9 wins an Xbox!!!" Radio truly is a rapidly dying art form. Very sad!

  5. P.S., i meant glued to their radios, lol

  6. Benny, you may be right.

    Although as a PD myself, I will tell you that you CAN be creative, relatable and exciting and STILL win in the Arbitron. It's been done before, and is still done many places. It is an art.

    I have both the mentality of a Program Director (order, structure, "tightness"), and a jock (creative, wild, different). I believe great radio stations have PDs who keep the overall station target, goal, and audience in mind--while allowing the talent to "be" talent.

  7. As a P.D. I WANTED my jocks to be creative. I also wasn't afraid to play a record that was good as long as it fit the format. To me, some of the best P.D.'s have the ability to not only make a decision that is good for the present, but also have the foresight to make that decision that will also profit in the future. R Dubb is right, it is an art.

    I am disappointed that we radio people are using the "cookie cutter" mentality.

  8. EXACTLY Joe! I once had a night guy who I was frustrated with because he DIDN'T push the envelope.

  9. The music will bring the listeners to the station, but to me at least, the On-Air talent will take the station over the top.

    Since I am working on the sales side of it now, I miss the other side, the creativity and the way we interact with the listeners. I can't wait to be back on the other side (programming), it's my home, my passion...I think every jock feels the same way.

  10. I remember being on-air and giving the change in my pocket as a prize: it wasn't the prize that was was the (silliness of the) prize, and the fun we had. "Contestants" attempting to win is what made it entertaining. We, the listeners and I, were all in on the joke (the money), but the camaraderie and the shared experience is what made something out of nothing.

  11. And how can you do fun stuff like that and make listener "connections" tracking from another state?

  12. We all know that the future of radio is going to be online and the sound cloud that is building within the technological community. People won't EVER stop listening to music they just will learn to digest it differently. I have worked at a station for over ten years now and have seen how it takes a long time for thing to come to reality because of all the red tape. Control Destiny and never stop playing good music!! -Buddha