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Simplicity Rules

Two different newspapers – one big trend.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Vodafone, a major manufacturer of cell phones, has designed a new phone that strips out all the whiz-bang features that all the cool-hunters are chasing. Why? Because demand for these services (like Internet browsing and picture messaging, for example) plummets over the age of 18 and really tanks after age 35. The result (so far available in some European countries) is the Vodafone Simply, a cell phone designed to do only what a phone is supposed to do – wirelessly. Early sales are very promising.

Meanwhile, USA Today reports that Hilton Hotels became so frustrated with the complaints they were receiving about hard-to-program clock radios and so fed up with their inability to solve the problem, they actually designed their own solution! They custom-made their own alarm clocks and ordered 200,000 of them. The new clocks are simple to program, simple to understand, and simple to use.

Simplicity (and its artier sibling, elegance) has always been critical in the way we create our stations, our programming, and our marketing messages. These two articles are just the latest reminders of what we would be unwise to forget: Keep It Simple, Stupid.

And as you build out the playbook for an HD Radio world, here’s my advice: keep it INCREDIBLY simple. Because, my friends, Radio has universal listenership in no small part because it’s easy and convenient for the very same folks who can’t program a VCR.

Take that advantage away and our industry will get what we deserve.

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