Radio’s Mojo


This has been bothering me for quite some time:  When did Radio People become so wimpy and insecure? Who did we leave in charge of our Mojo, and where did he hide it?

I grew up in a business full of pirates, Merlins, and dream catchers: Jim Hilliard, George Burns, Gordon McClendon, Kent Burkhart, Rick Sklar, Bill Meeks, Steve Berger, E Karl. Lucky me, I worked with many of them.
There used to be a ‘damn the flying monkeys, full speed ahead’ swagger to Radio innovators like Bill Drake, Hal Neal, and Jim Long.

What happened?

I woke up one morning and we were all in a corner nervous and shivering about satellite radio and its 300,000 channels. Yes, those same channels that go deeper into the red by hundreds of millions of dollars every Quarter. Yes, the same channels that can’t exist at all unless there is a dubious merger between the two players.

So, we were spooked and panicky about………?

Then it was hand-wringing over the people meter … never mind that it’s a poor substitute for good research and has yet to pass muster in all the pending markets, “…we’ve got to give the agencies something…” “…it’s better than the diary…” even if it’s going to own your research budget line and flip the whole relationship of cume to  AQH on its head.    

Posting? Sure! Why not commit to a bucket full of make-goods and do-overs that are sure to detonate the PDs format clocks and make any attempt at inventory management and spot limits another dreamy artifact from Radio’s distant past?

We talk Local and put on more and more national and network shows over which we have no creative control. We have become television — a handful of generally poorly-done local moments surrounded mostly by network feeds.  Even when we claim to have local creative oversight, it takes us almost two months to deal with a racist song we let air for days and days. Or, we run local contests that injure and kill listeners. At least they are, were, Local listeners. We have that goin’ for us.

We waste our time on HD channels when no one owns an HD Radio while we virtually ignore the Web where millions and millions are on line 24/7/52.

And, while I’m at it — At what meeting did we decide a two-share was just fine and dandy, thank-you very much?

So, I ask: Will the person who has been hiding Radio’s Mojo please FedEx it to me? I have a couple of people who know what to do with it.

All yours, Willie…

“My heroes have always been cowboys.

And they still are, it seems.

Sadly, in search of, but one step in back of,

Themselves and their slow-movin’ dreams.”

Bob Harper