The Wisdom of Colliding Radio Genres

I was listening to an interview with filmmaker Quentin Tarantino and a fan asked him what movies made an early influence on him.

One of his answers was surprising – the movie was Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein.

I’m with you, Quentin – I have seen that movie hundreds of times (and yes, it still holds up).

Why did this film make such an impression on young Quentin?  Because it was the first time he had seen a movie where two “different” genres collided:  It was both funny and scary.  Until then, there was “funny” and there was “scary,” but there never was a movie which could be both, sometimes at the same time.

Anyone who has followed Tarantino will not be surprised that this notion of colliding genres made such an impact – such collisions are knit into all of his films.

It’s a useful reminder to those of us working in the narrow genres defined by radio formats to reconsider from time to time what the world of radio would be like if the lines could be finer, more porous, and a whole lot smudgier.

What was the JACK format before JACK but a dramatic inversion of all known programming conventions?

Before All-Christmas became a holiday radio staple, does anyone recall how incredibly risky and controversial the notion was?

When we create News/Talk content, why is it always in the image of Rush Limbaugh rather than the image of Jon Stewart?

While audience expectations are important, there’s a difference between an expectation and a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Ponder that the next time you consider how smudgy your own radio brand’s fine line is – or should be.

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  • You are so right Mark. I have been happily smudging format boundaries since 1985–many times to the great chagrin of my peers and competitors.

  • Indeed! In today’s world it’s best to draw the strategic horizon in pencil, so you can erase it and redraw it to fit the changing audience landscape.

  • Yes, it’s all in pencil smudges now….Happy New Year, Tom!

  • Yes, leadership sometimes isn’t correlated with kudos. Thanks Harve!

  • Harvey Kojan

    I was recently discussing another example of this with WMMR’s Bill Weston and WIYY’s Dave Hill. Each considers himself quite fortunate to program rock stations that also serve as NFL flagships. But I still recall my peers’ collective “Huh?!” when KC classic rock KCFX started carrying the Chiefs back in 1990. The idea of a music station making such a major sports commitment seemed pretty crazy back then.

  • Andy McNabb

    Sports on our Christian station has added distinction in what is arguably one of the most competitive small markets in Canada. Whereas larger music-intensive stations in the market might drive away their music listeners with sports, on our non-rated station, it does the reverse. We set aside well in excess of one-tenth (one fifth in many cases) of each play by play broadcast’s commercial time to include multiple broadcasts of testimonies from Christian sports personalities in every broadcast, and produce multiple sport-specific fundraisers to assist financially challenged families in affording sports equipment and registrations.

  • Great Andy! Thanks for the comment.

    Mark Ramsey

  • adam garey

    Ed Scissorhands..Both Comedy and Thriller and even radio as a medium Require a different form of Timing.Mashing it here is so creative really.

  • John Parikhal

    Don’t forget The Drive in Chicago. Great programming, breakthrough imaging (which no station has been able to successfully copy) – and they’ve kept it at that level for over 10 years.

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