Saturday, January 28, 2012

Is Your Show, Your Commercial, Your Imaging "Sexy?"

One of the best aspects of what I do for a living is that the job description changes constantly.

Consulting requires understanding changing listener tastes, working with executives and coaching talent seems to call on new skills, requiring always learning new things every day.

In 2012, Job #1 is helping Gen Xers and Leading Edge boomers "engage" and increase usage from Millennials. We're "Digital Immigrants" (learning new media as a second language, having been raised in an analog world) and they're "Digital Natives" (they learned to play video games, program a TV remote, interact with a computer before they spoke their first word).

The size of "the Taylor Swift generation" (click to watch the insightful video produced by Natalie Vardabasso and Kristina Emmott as a midterm project) means they simply can't be ignored, as the oldest of them are about to turn 30 and already they dominate the 25-34 demo.

I have been wishing I could find a way to let their parents and grandparents who still hope to be relevant in media for at least a few years more hear how life sounds to their Millennial listeners and now it's possible thanks to this man.

Meet Jad Abumrad: The man who Canada's Globe And Mail this week said has "made public radio sexy." (click to read the article)
The show uses any tools it can to illustrate the ideas it presents and hold the listener’s attention: tiny musical compositions, for example. Sound effects such as eerie echoed munching noises bring the listener to the ocean floor where scavenging hagfish devour a whale corpse. Layered voices talking on top of each other pass the story from person to person, just like in a real conversation. And rather than the formality of introducing each new speaker that listeners are accustomed to, these appear with the sound of throat clearing or a quick “ready?” before they are even introduced. For Abumrad, all this evolution is about fighting back against what he calls the “tune-out moments” of conventional storytelling and using the language of sound to jolt his listeners out of the inertia of the familiar.

How many "tune out moments" are there in your programming? Ask anyone in a PPM market: tune out moments literally do cause REAL tune-outs and drive ratings down, whether they happen in a song, a commercial, a promo, stationality elements or when an air personality opens a microphone.

“It’s totally accessible, which is awesome. I think that’s a trend in radio, and especially podcasts, making it accessible,” says Colleen Joyce, a 29-year-old living in Victoria, BC.

Do you have more listeners to your podcasts than to your terrestrial radio broadcasts? And, by the way, how are your numbers 25-34, let alone 18-24 and teens?

Perhaps you should spend some time experiencing WNYC's Radiolab.

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