I've responded to Doug Erickson on AllAccess, hehe.....
Doug's insights are of course spot-on. Content IS king. But there's more to it than just that. But what? A growing number of radio experts realize that "something" in radio just ain't right.
But so many of them, present company excluded, hack at the leaves only. In order to know how to fix a problem, you first need to understand what it actually is. But, just like auditing the Fed, the very fact that people finally notice that "something's" rotten in the state of Denmark is a very positive thing. If this reaches critical mass, who knows - we just might get some real change. For a change.
To be sure, there is no easy recipe here. We're not just dealing with years of self-imposed and deeply-entrenched rationale for why the status quo is great. The real problem with radio these days is the spirit of the times. It's the Zeitgeist, folks!
It's that same centralized corporate-wanna-be-governmental structure which is eroding the individual liberties of ordinary citizens one at a time; it's that same bottom-line-obsessed chicken-sh*t attitude that forces record companies to churn out mindless cookie-cutter songs performed by people in diapers, while discarding patient artist development; it's that same flock mentality coupled with obsessively-controlling mindsets of station owners, which forces straight-jacket-like "formats" on presenters and deliberately divides and polarizes their audiences.
You a triple-A listener? Well then top-40's not for you! And you ain't ever gonna listen to jazz either. Don't you dare surprise anyone with your radio shows!
Does someone here actually know ANYONE (just ONE person!) who ONLY listens to ONE kind of music? Only one "format?" If you do, I bet they ain't much fun to be around! WHO invented this drivel? Who wants to be Big Brother here? Since when do ordinary intelligent people need this kind of thought-control? We ordinary folks like to mix things up a bit y'know. You can't "make us" care for your programming if YOU don't care! And DON'T tell me that you also ONLY care for JUST your station's format!
When an "elite" station decides on doing just ONE thing for a select audience, that's, erm... ONE thing. But when an ostensibly "popular" or "commercial" station decides on polarizing their listeners, treating them like a "really large elite"... Dude...! There's no such thing as a "large elite". It's an oxymoron. Look it up, I swear I'm right.
But then, you see, virtually ALL commercial stations have adopted this INSANE model by now. And they've all developed an acute case of F.I.B. (format-induced blinkers), not even marginally aware they're just going in circles! And have been blissfully doing so for the better part of the last 30 years. No wonder everyone's all dizzy!
Does it mean there's something wrong in playing just rock? Or just hip-hop? Well, no, not really. But if you're gonna do it 24/7 then dontcha think you're missing out on something? You MIGHT be pleasing that oddball 1% of your audience who really are too darned THICK to enjoy anything else, but you're LOSING your remaining 99% who WILL switch to an R&B station now and then. And while switching, they will NOT think of you as their heroes either. When switching back, they'll tune in to ANY other station, because it SOUNDS THE SAME as yours. "Yea but we have these great DJs with their special voices and 'characters'." Sure, man. You do. But if they're not allowed to speak their MINDS and play what THEY like, then they're just cute VOICES. Form over substance.
The normal intelligent listener who only has a little time to listen to radio is looking for something that will hold his or her attention. Something that will give them that "gee I didn't know that" experience, or "wow, that's so cool - I'd never have heard THAT if it wasn't for THIS wonderful station!" kind of thing.
Variety is the spice of life. Modern popular radio has forgotten that, big time.
Internet is winning with radio because people make their own variety. Only thing is, it's so darned confusing for even the savviest web-surfers, that finding something fresh and new - and GOOD - is not all that easy. THIS is where radio has a HUGE OPPORTUNITY. Be the taste-makers. Not reluctant-but-willing major-label followers (hehe, I think this summarizes the paradoxical conondrum radio is in pretty nicely).
Think about it. Radio and Records eat out of each other's hands... while growling at each other. It's a case of one hand washing the other, but not really wanting to. And WHO is responsible for this? The short-and-sweet answer is: ANYONE who supports this!
I suppose there is just one way to solve this problem. It's hugely unrealistic, I know. Because it involves letting go, relaxing controls and allowing oneself just a touch of humility. Something like "gee I DON'T think I know everything, so maybe I should take a chance on this thing..." And that of course means guts.
You might think that the root of the problem lies with the TOP brass. Not with the fine men and women who actually man the mics. You'll rightly point out that it's because they want to CONTROL everything, they don't TRUST YOU the presenter to know what you're doing, they're AFRAID to lose even a quarter rating point on trying something new, and they are therefore the corporate equivalents of the NANNY STATE. They crawl up your backsides with high-powered microscopes, treat you like idiots - and convince you that you really, really LIKE IT!
But then... you know what happens next? When YOU are asked what YOU would prefer to do - you wholeheartedly endorse the current model. You wouldn't change a thing.
So - that's who's responsible.
Content costs money. Yes. I can attest to that more than most. But what price integrity? Vision? Passion? Guts? Honesty?
This is why people like Doug need a bigger following.
Create an "eye-openers' club" or something, Doug.
Best of luck!
:) xx paul