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Beware the Insider’s Perspective

There’s a fascinating sentence in a book I’m reading now (more on that book in the weeks to come), and this is it:

“Don’t get so caught up in your own insider’s perspective that you lose sight of what the man on the street really cares about.”

Simple, yet deadly.

And when it comes to audio entertainment and information – the category that includes radio – what do you think the man or woman on the street really cares about?

She cares about simplicity and comfort and a listening experience that’s hassle-free.

She cares about her favorite songs and plenty of them.

She cares about a background soundtrack to her day.

She cares to know that the schools are open and there’s no tornado in the area and the weather will be sunny and warm and the traffic is flowing smoothly and her children are safe and yes, finally, Paris Hilton is behind bars.

She cares to spend time with the morning friends she’s been listening to for years.

And what do you think she doesn‘t care about?

She doesn’t care how many minutes or songs in a row you play. She just cares to hear a lot of music. When we confuse our tactics for the benefits of those tactics we are focusing on messaging rather than relevance.

She doesn’t care about the problems of the sales department. She just knows that clutter makes her turn your station off. And the more it’s about the sales department and not about what interests and appeals to her, the faster she spins that dial.

She doesn’t care about a radio she doesn’t own or need. We can promote HD radio until we’re quite blue in the face, but are we doing it to prove a point to Wall Street and to the Detroit automakers? Are we doing it to “checkmate” satellite radio? Or are we doing it because she seems to want it?

She doesn’t care if the contest is local or national. She just cares that it makes for better listening than the song it replaces.

She doesn’t care if a DJ is live or Memorex. She just cares if it’s the kind of DJ she wants when she’s hearing it.

She doesn’t care whether or not she’s listening to the “best” or “most” this or that. The proof is in the pudding. She only cares that it’s her station that meets her expectations and makes it easy to avoid the thing she hates most: Switching the dial.

She’s not obsessed with your competition the way you are. The only listeners doing an A/B test on one station versus another are the programmers working at A and B.

Most of our liners and positioning lines don’t matter one bit to her. Brands are bigger than positioning lines or they’re not brands at all. I’ve been in rooms with broadcasters where even the professionals in the room didn’t know what key competitors in their market were saying on the air. If they don’t know, why should listeners know? And why should they care?

Most listeners don’t think very hard about what they listen to. And they don’t think at all about what matters to you, the broadcaster – not unless it also matters to them, too.

You’re either on their wavelength or you’re sunk under the waves.

Sink or swim.

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