Welcome back Dave Beasing for a guest blog today:
Consider these two produced announcements heard on Los Angeles radio within minutes of each other on a recent Sunday:
"According to research, 92% of Southern California wants to hear this next song MORE."
- Star 98.7, preceding "Wake Me Up When September Ends" by Green Day
"We could tell you that 83% of Southern California wants to hear this next song, but you know -- and we know -- that's a lie."
- Jack FM 93.1
The second line is effective even if you hadn't heard the first. Why? Stations like Jack FM aren't creating a lack of credibility for conventional radio - they're merely exploiting it. According to this year's Jacobs Tech Poll, nearly the same number of people say that commercial radio in their area has gone downhill lately as improved. Among Alternative listeners, sadly, more are negative than positive.
The intention of Star 98.7's line is understandable and has some basis. In effect, they're trying to say, "Radio stations like ours play this next song a lot, but that's because people want to hear it." Point well taken. Better that people think that's the reason than that there's some sort of payola scandal or something.
Unfortunately, by stating an absurd statistic, Star 98.7 is instead causing a raft of cynical thoughts like...
"Other people listening want to hear this song - so if you don't - this may not be your station."
"FM plays to the masses. If your taste in music is different, too bad."
And, of course...
"We radio guys think you're dumb enough to believe this phony statistic."
It's natural for those of us who have made our careers in radio to get upset sometimes when we hear stations poking fun at our own industry. But until more of radio starts giving listeners credit for being intelligent - by genuinely and credibly including them in the decision-making process - we have to separate ourselves from stations that clearly do not. Simply put, we have to be different.
Stations like Jack FM are calling bullshit on the rest of FM Radio - because listeners are.