Thursday, May 27, 2010

Can They Really Make Radio Say “Sex” And “Rape”?

...I hope not, since not only are broadcasters responsible to community needs, good programmers work hard to build a large audience so that advertisers trust us to get them more results than what they expected.

It would be nice to think that in Pennsylvania a very good cause is using the request for a change in their copy to get more publicity than the actual ads would get and you sure can’t blame them for that as long as once everything dies down more reasonable heads prevail and ultimately make everyone involved, including B-101 listeners, "feel good."

Meanwhile, ironically, ad wizard Roy Williams has also recently been on a tear about buyers and agencies having the right to super-saturate radio with annoying ads.

I’ll permit Williams a bit of slack since I am a longtime "beagle" of the wiz, but it is possible that he’s been hearing from PPM market stations he'd like to buy, informing him that running the same piece of copy, intentionally written to irk, several times per hour is damaging both his and the stations' interests.

He wants to buy radio and control the creative in the same very successful way he has used to get clients outstanding results for many years, and you can’t blame him for that.

Metered behavior, however, is now giving us information that would be foolish for a competitive programmer to ignore. Some commercials, for example, lose as much as 40% of the audience within the first seconds. And, when the average listener leaves for another station, it typically takes more than 45 minutes for them to come back.

The tension between sales and programming goals has never been greater since it’s now possible to know exactly how many commercials per hour listeners can accept as well as which ones, right down to the minute, drive listeners away.

Hopefully, media buyers and clients - let alone our own radio company executives - know as they incent air personalities and programmers to build audience, we work in their best interest to improve the reach and impact of their messages as we police what listener actions show is “clutter.”

Once this PR tempest dies down, in addition to the words “sex” and “rape,” I’d like to nominate some other phrases radio has a right to insist be removed from the air: “open every Friday night ‘til nine,” “check our website for more details,” “for all your (fill in the blank) needs,” "we'll do whatever it takes to get your business," “your big volume dealer,” "if you're $10,000 or more in debt, you need...,” "best selection", "bigger variety", "no one has better service," “save, save, save,” “going out of business,” and a plethora of long-hackneyed phrases and words that have gone far past being irritating and entered into the lexicon of things listeners simply avoid or ignore, which is a fate even worse than tune-out.

Hopefully, both charities and advertisers will pay attention to the recommendations of the people who know the medium and the target best, so that we can work together to build and hold audience, making fully-engaged listeners respond with the actions we all want and need.

Radio must be fully accountable as the business listens to clients .. and our community.

We have always had two sets of customers, but now - thanks to PPM - the one which used to silently change stations when we offended them now have a loud, clear, statistically-trackable voice it would be foolish to ignore.

1 comment:

Dan said...

Indeed, cliches are the antithesis of creativity...
Creatvity stifled by fear is certainly not creativity...nor will it grab anyone's attention, whether they have disposable income or not..
Any writer with the forethought to write copy the listener will pay attention to, regardless of reaction, should have the biggest audience at the end of the day, if not the next day, when the cliches become more annoying...