Where was News/Talk radio when hackers reportedly representing the North Korean government nuked Sony Pictures and scared major theater owners into locking out the latest movie from Seth Rogen and James Franco, The Interview?
With stations labeled “Freedom” and “The Flag” and “The Truth,” News/Talk crows daily about the dangers faced by “free” Americans from their own government, so what did N/T broadcasters do when those same freedoms were abjectly denied to Americans due to the vandalism (or terrorism) of a foreign government?
For most stations in the format, the answer appears to be: Nothing.
Now I know that events have gotten way ahead of this fast-moving story. I know that the movie is now released and available to anyone who wants to pay to watch it in a theater or online. But there was a moment there when the “freedom” so many N/T stations base their positioning on was stripped from us. That was the moment it appeared that The Interview was to remain permanently on the shelf at Sony, never to see the light of day or the dark of a movie house.
Where were you in that moment, News/Talk?
Did you stage free screenings of the movie on any screen you could find?
Did you launch a campaign to lobby our leaders in Washington that the denial of freedom in this tiny instance is the beginning of a very slippery slope, one that could easily lead to foreign actors at any time threatening violence for any reason only to have freedoms stripped away, again and again?
Did you give away free downloads?
What did you actually do?
Or did you just “talk” about it?
Granted, this was in the midst of the holiday season – not a time when all hands are typically on deck. But opportunities – priorities, even – do not wait for 9am on a Monday morning in January. Reality happens as it sees fit. And it’s up to us to respond.
“We missed our chance to do a great stunt,” you might say. No, this was not an opportunity for a stunt. It was an opportunity to live up to the positioning language News/Talkers have proclaimed so vociferously for years. It was an opportunity to walk our own talk.
“Oh, but it’s just a silly Seth Rogen movie,” you might say. Yes, a silly Seth Rogen movie that a foreign government had decided nobody in America or anywhere else should see. Were you complicit in the surrender of that freedom? For a radio format that thrives on the umbrage of freedoms challenged, News/Talk dropped the ball big time.
It is, after all, the same “silly Seth Rogen movie” that was YouTube’s most popular video the day after Christmas, and was bootlegged more than 900,000 times in the 24 hours after its official release.
And if tapping into what America is interested in doesn’t matter, how about living up to the ideals and values of our News/Talk brands?
Or is that positioning line just a tagline? Is that waving flag in the logo just a trademark? Are the words venting from the personalities just incitements to ratings? Is the News/Talk brand really not based on the principles we talk about at all – just the principle of money?
Listeners expect more from the brands they love. They expect those brands to stand for something they believe in and to prove they believe in it.
Words are cheap.
Let’s not make Talk Radio cheaper.
Is your brand an exception to this unfortunate rule? Tell your story in the comments to this blog post.