Boxy, boxy radio... why do you torment us?

I quit listening to commercial radio a long time ago. There just isn't anything left that is palatable for me. Does it ever feel to you like radio has lost it's way?

So what does this have to do with strengths?

Commercial radio isn't about strengths at all. Instead, it's about boxes.

Man-peeking-out-of-moving-box They build a box and say "We're going to be this box" and then they do everything they can to try to get YOU into their box. They play a limited selection of music because their consultants say that "people that fit into your box will only listen to this kind of music". Then the advertising sales people for the station say, "Well, we better go out and find businesses that cater to the people we're putting in our box."

The station's programming and production staff get to work and try to sound like a radio station should. At the end of the day, the radio station has just built another box. It appears and sounds like all the other boxes. It's "yawn"... boxy.

What's wrong with this picture?

Commercial radio has forgotten that we, the listeners, don't tune to radio stations to listen "TO them". We tune into radio stations to listen "FOR us". We are looking for a connection. We want a trusted friend.

We don't to be SOLD every opportunity YOU can dig up. We're not interested in splashy ID's and stingers. We want something real. News, traffic and weather are great. Those are the basics. Now what can you do with the other 50 minutes of the hour? 

Here are some suggestions:

First... stop being desperate. Have you ever had a desperate friend? It's pretty tough to respect and give attention to someone who is constantly begging you to like them. Just be cool. Provide content and information that YOU would like in a radio station and let the chips fall where they may. Trust the strengths of your staff and build the station from your strengths up. Change things up frequently. Surprise us over and over again. Don't pull stunts to try to surprise us either. That makes us not trust you. The relationship you have with your listeners is living and breathing. Don't manipulate. Be a good friend and  you'll attract good friends.

Secondly, embrace the fact that a radio station is a communicator. Effective communication involves both talking and listening. Talk TO us, not AT us. Make valuable contributions to the conversations we are actually having in our lives. Give us your point of view. Make a point to make a point.

Lastly, (and most importantly) commit to your strengths. A radio stations real strengths are to inform, engage and to entertain. If you do stick to those, you can't go wrong. Your listeners will be happier. They'll tune in for longer and you'll turn your radio station from an "outgoing call" business to an "incoming call" business. There's nothing wrong with the fact that you're in the advertising business. But the more you commit to your real strengths, the easier it will be to attract advertisers.

Case in point: Oprah. Can you do what she does except on your radio station? I'll bet you could if you tried.

Tim Tamashiro