Joining us for a guest blog today is Jacobs Media's Keith Cunningham:
After reading Russell Smith’s Globeandmail.com column “Hyped about Hyperreal,” (paid subscription required) allow us to introduce you to the new term that may be buzzing soon, “Hyperreal.” It’s the combination of hyper and real and it’s being used to describe the next wave of the reality concept – which could very likely show up in TV, radio or gaming (which is ahead of the curve and already doing this).
You’re probably familiar with the wildly popular "Sims" computer game in which gamers create their own characters and control their lives (for better or for worse). Some people actually enjoy "guiding" their Sims personas rather than living their own lives. Hyperreal is just that – it’s about giving control to the consumer. A TV version of "The Sims" game has been rumored for some time, but it has yet to come to fruition. But consumer demand does have its way of manifesting into reality. And it’s inevitable that something like this will be coming soon to television.
So consider the possibilities of the hyperreal concept for radio. If we really think about it, radio stations that play requests are already doing this. But that’s hardly anything new, it’s not wildly compelling, and radio isn’t getting much credit for it anyway.
As iPods have become ubiquitous, and consumers can control their music, we have witnessed changes in the way that radio has presented its programming ("shuffle," etc.). And of course, the on-demand nature of TiVo's and DVRs brings the viewer into a whole different role about watching programs at the most convenient times - NOT when the networks air them.
If any of us are looking to capitalize on hype or taking “reality” to the next level, we need to step it up. The easiest and most logical method would be to weave the hyperreal concept into a morning show bit or a promotion.
- Could listeners control the morning show hosts or stunt boy?
- Could listeners control other listeners who are competing for a prize?
- Could listeners control the playlist more often or in different ways?
- Could groups of listeners compete for something on a more interactive level?
Of course, the answers are Yes.
This isn’t a new concept, but it does represent a shift in mindset for many. It’ll be easy to weave the hyperreal concept into an isolated bit or promotion, but we believe there could be a bigger and more compelling question here: Can we effectively and consistently weave the hyperreal sensibility into general programming more often? Even things as easy as on-demand requests or listener takeover weekends have the hyperreal sensibility.
Although this is just a thought starter, consumer control and reality are desirable realities these days. We know the common audience complaints about radio – much of which are rooted or based on feeling psychologically excluded, or having no control (tight playlists, boring, predictable, over-commercialization, etc.). The hyperreal concept challenges us to listen to the listener more often. None of us at Jacobs Media will ever recommend knee-jerking to any concept, but in thinking long-term and big-picture – even if hyperreal only becomes a small-scale TV reality, when it's added to the countless other consumer-control entertainment choices out there, it could possibly create more imaging problems for radio. Let’s be forward thinkers and not get left behind. After all, we’re in the listener-based entertainment business, right?
In following suit with the true nature of the hyperreal concept, now we’ll turn it over to you - if you have any ideas on how the hyperreal concept can be implemented at radio, we’d love to hear them (and we’ll give you full credit!).