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Radio has a problem with “sound”

And I don’t mean sound “quality.”

Sound is an evocative tool.

What you hear can summon a host of images – visual images.

Sound carries visceral impact – the sound of a baby crying, the sound of church bell ringing, the sound of crickets on a warm summer night.

So then why does so little of this sound make it to the radio?

Between the records, we have plenty of sound “effects,” but little in the way of evocative sound. Little natural sound. Little sound that reminds you of people or experiences or times or moments.

Walk into a spa and the sound is specifically selected to support the mood. The same is true of virtually any retail establishment that seeks to develop an experience for its patrons.

To be sure, some of this comes from the music content, but not all of it.

And what about our spots? It’s as if we as an industry think it’s impossible to sell a product unless a talking head extolls its benefits for 30 to 60 seconds. And don’t even get me started on the cliche genre of “two guys talking” – these spots are a dime a dozen.

And what about the absence of sound – pure silence? Print advertisers will tell you that nothing sells a product like the white space around it. So why do we have so little “white space” on the radio? Why don’t our spots ever shut the hell up and try to say more with less rather than more with more?

Next time you’re on a beach listening to the cries of seagulls and the crash of waves on the sand, ask yourself why radio – an auditory medium – does such a mediocre job with sound.

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