Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Things That No Longer Work

Thanks to Don Anthony for another terrific issue of "Mouth" and to "iconic Minneapolis radio deity," Dave Ryan of Clear Channel's KDWB, who weighs in on things that may no longer work on the radio. Can you add to his list?

"A couple months ago, I wrote an article for this fine publication about the things in radio that just don't really ever change. We talked about how there's at least one male whore on every air staff. (Usually the night guy) I mentioned how engineers tend to be some of the oddest people in the building. And how there's one person on every staff that you aren't quite sure exactly what they do. These are constants in the radio business." 

Later, at the urging of a friend, Ryan decided to make a list of what he thought no longer works on the radio:
  • "Stunt boys: Years ago, everyone had a "Goat Boy" who went out and got attacked by a police dog or went cliff-diving ... all for giggles. We don't do that anymore, because I really think it belongs to another era of radio. Today, listeners want to hear the star of the show ride a bull, get hit by a stun gun or have a finger cut off. Even the idea of saying, "Here's Xtreme Jamie out on the street, ready to get dragged behind a car" makes me cringe a little. It was incredibly fun radio back then, but just like Tom Green, it's time has passed."
  • "Endless Entertainment reports: Yes, we still do entertainment news every day. But we don't talk about everything under the sun ...We don't spend a lot of time on the Kardashians. Why? Two reasons: One, everyone else in the market is talking about that stuff. Someone once told me, "If all the restaurants on your street are selling steak, sell chicken." Offer your audience something different. "But Dave," you cry, "Our consultant tells us we have to talk endlessly about 'Biggest Loser.'" I know that. Cover it occasionally. But here's a question: "America's Got Talent" is a huge show. Tell me how much time they spend every week discussing the Kardashians or 'American Idol'? Of course it's none. Zero. Zip. The show is interesting on it's own. But take the argument some consultants make and apply it to "America's Got Talent" and by his estimation, it should be getting slaughtered in the ratings for not doing entertainment reports. Speaking of which, my second point is, make your show interesting enough with characters, plots, storylines and storytelling, that you don't need to rely on Hollywood gossip to fill up your four hours."
  • Double time checks: I put this in almost as a joke. Years ago, a consultant listened to our show and his only feedback? Do double time checks. Yep. "It's seven Oh five, five minutes past seven." Today, I'm not even sure time checks are necessary. Everyone has a cell phone in their hand or in their pocket. Turn it on and BOOM, there's the time. I still do them, probably more out of habit than anything else, but I'm not sure we need them. Same with weather forecasts. They can't hurt really, but it's there on everyone's cell phone.
  • Music beds: I think this is one of those things radio came up with 20 years ago and never really explained why they needed to exist. I used to have a zillion carts (remember them?) with music beds on a big giant rotating rack. Talk to callers? Use a music bed. Put a winner on the air? Use another one. Be very quiet and listen right now. Is there a music bed playing in the background of your life? When Oprah talked to Paris Jackson, was there a cool hip-hop instrumental in the background? Randy Lane told me one of the most compelling sounds on the radio can be that second or two of silence while someone is thinking and we're all wondering what they're going to say. A music bed can only take away from that.
Tomorrow, in Pt. 4, he addresses 'Characters and Being Cool.'

1 comment:

The Morning Mouth said...

In this closing feature in Jockline Daily, today Dave takes on "Characters" and "Being Cool:"

"I actually love characters. I used to have a bear that called our show and made obscene jokes to our female co-hosts. It was so stupid it was funny, and I'll admit that once or twice a year, we'll bust him out again and there he is on the phone. Back in the day, morning shows loved characters. The wacky janitor, some silly fake caller from your local dumb suburb, the President. Now characters just seem dated.

If you still do them, make them feel more "2012" by gently acknowledging the fact that it's you or your co-host by saying something during the call like, "Can you read your script okay?" or by letting the character go out-of-character by cracking up laughing.

Being cool: Okay, I know you're cool and a bad-ass and nothing fazes you. Hello, 1996! I truly believe your audience wants to hear all about the "human" things you do. Poop your pants on an airplane? Tell them about it. Breaking up with your boyfriend? Tell them why. Afraid of a big meeting with the boss? Everyone can relate.

The jocks who try to be cool on the air are going the way of the CD Walkman. They're still there, but they don't get used nearly as often as they used to.