Tuesday, November 30, 2004

NO Sports, Politics, Religion?

Thanks to Reid Morgan (pd@country95.fm), PD at B93 and Country 95.5 in Lethbridge for this discussion topic: I am looking for a quick opinion. In his most recent newsletter Chris Byrnes mentions that the three things never to discuss on air are sports, politics and religion. With the obvious exceptions of major events happening in any field or maybe a client driven promotion with a sports team, what do you think of this statement?

Here's my spin, for what it's worth..

Chris is a very smart guy and a very experienced programmer, but it seems to me that his primary expertise in (soft) AC may possibly be making him a bit overly conservative for a format targeting today's 30-somethings.

Half of men and a third of women are BIG sports fans. So, I admit, maybe only 40% of the audience would ID themselves as a sports fan, but if you do something local and compelling about sports that tells a story that grabs interest, why not?

Sports is all about emotion and drama. My personal favorite AC consultant Mike McVay has even suggested rethinking all of the traditional rules of information - like sports on a female-targeted format - and the way it's presented in his "Reinventing Radio" writings, which are posted at www.mcvaymedia.com.

Why wouldn't we talk about those things?

Politics = one of my fav bits of 2004 was when John Cretien resigned and Ted Roop and Derm Carnduff of KIX in Barrie ran all of his verbal gaffes over Alan Jackson/Remember When, so politics is life and as long as you don't alienate people, it's OK with me.

Religion is of course more difficult than ever with some folks really digging in to their positions in the wake of evangelical Christians and funadmentalist Muslims on the two extremes.. but the majority of us are simply trying to cope and have a good time without offending anyone.. so even something relatable that expresses that is OK too as long as you don't end of leaving mom with something to explain that makes her uncomfortable with the kids in the car.

For example, another of my favourite bits of the past year was heard on KRTY, San Jose (http://www.krty.com/) as LDS morning host/PD Julie Stevens, redneck Southern Baptist cohost Gary and their Catholic stunt guy talked about Lent semi-seriously with tongues firmly in cheeks from each of their perspectives.

It was a bit that made me stop and turn up the radio.

So, for me, no topical areas are absolutely 'off limits,' unless:

- you don't know in advance how you're going to get into it ..
- who it relates to ..
- if it passes the who cares test and resonates with the values of the target listener ..
- and you don't know how you're going to get out of it .. before you start.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a very nice piece. The only nit I have to pick is your comment about evangelicals and fundamentalist Muslims and I may be misunderstanding you. But I don't think they are at opposite ends, so to speak, but at the same end (and a better term might be fundamentalist Christians.) A fundamentalist is a fundamentalist is a fundamentalist. They all, religious or secular, share the same mind set and psychology. Only the ideologies have different terms.