After a box office dud, comedian Julius Henry went back to the drawing board.
This time the gags would go through a testing process. But not some artificial laboratory test. A real test in front of a real audience. In once case, they spent six weeks on the road touring, each time trying different words, different phrases, constantly honing the material. By the end, the bits were tuned to perfection and the movie that included them became a hit.
Why do I relay this story?
Because so much of what we do in the Radio business falls into two categories:
Category 1: Test stuff in concept before we try it, the equivalent of a laboratory. It may be “safe,” but it’s not the same as “real.”
Category 2: Try stuff without measuring audience reaction at all, literally throwing things against the wall and checking to see whether it sticks several months later when the ratings pour out. We call for research when tragedy strikes, and like clockwork, it always does.
The lesson from Julius Henry to you: Don’t simply test stuff without trying it first. And don’t simply try stuff without measuring audience feedback. Try. Evaluate. Rinse and repeat. Hone and improve.
It worked for Julius Henry, better known by his nickname, Groucho, and his brethren Harpo and Chico.
Marx Brothers all.