Years ago, when Howard Stern began teaching every Morning Zoo (the hard way) that entertainment expectations were changing, I remember our conclusions behind the mirrored windows of focus group rooms: Listeners want more spontaneity and less canned humor.
Result: A lot of shows tried to make it up as they went along. Including the shows that couldn’t exist outside a canned world. It was a disaster and, in many cases, continues to be one today.
But the fault is not all with the struggling morning shows. It’s partially with our interpretation of what listeners wanted to hear.
You see, it’s not spontaneity that listeners crave. It’s truth. It’s reality. The humor comes out of that reality, not out of our ability to be quick with a comeback or cleverly deliver yet another edition of “Battle of the Sexes.”
Comedy springs from surprise. And truth is not only stranger than fiction, it’s more surprising.