Sunday, January 09, 2011

Bad Weather

The following story is being used here as an excuse to rant again about a pet peeve of mine. It probably won't be the last time I blog about what a lousy job most voices on the radio do relating weather updates.

Last week a client GM sent along this RBR report and asked:
"So does this mean things have changed so much that we should just dump weather and play more music? Don't know if I totally buy this? This is awful for radio."

Michael O'Malley
, always the voice of reason, points out that things may not be as bad as it appears. "Too many questions we don't know about the survey question or sample including what context this is asked in? A poll of who? How was the question phrased? Did they have more than one choice? RBR leaves all that important-for-perspective info out."

However, O'Malley adds: "It's no secret though that for music stations with 18-49 making up at least some substantial portion of the audience composition, the interest in all services continues to decline - markedly so if they're 'formal.' As a listener I can find out about the news, weather and last night's lottery numbers on my smart phone while listening to my favorite song on my favorite station and not have to wait for anything formal. Doesn't mean radio has diminished in my estimation (I'm there for the music, fun, talent, etc), just that I'm not using for these particular services at the moment. We don't see that aspect reflected in this article either.

"'Breaking' however is another story; the interested in 'breaking' is significantly greater. We've also known for a while that TV has taken over in the kitchen vs. the bedroom and car. Be long on organic and short on formal. Program for how I'm being used right now."

That very day, I played morning show airchecks of every station in a client market for for our cluster's crew so that we could all talk about things we must do to stand out and be better. Weather was pretty much the same on every station in town except one (the CHR, the jock did a great job briefly relating it and making it fun). Everyone else was 30% chance of precip, considerable clouds, blah blah.

Everyone agreed after listening, radio's voice tracked approach to weather has become irrelevant. The cluster Operations Manager/PD, as if to make O'Malley's point, pulled out his smart phone and showed that he can get current conditions, temp and even a ten day forecast anytime he wants it.

Yet, we all continue to talk up the same old weather jingles with the NWS forecast verbatim up to a call letter stinger at the end just like radio did decades ago.

Most of us, face it, are pretty much "average" at most of what we do and that is no longer acceptable with anything in a multi-media world of ubiquitous information, choice, personalization, micro-local and customization.

If we can't do info differently and exceptionally, let's stop wasting listeners time with drivel.

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