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What “Mad Men” means for Radio

Once upon a time there was a TV show called The Sopranos which was created by one guy who became famous and was executive produced and occasionally written by another guy who did not.

That other guy went on to create a show called Mad Men about the hustle and bustle (in more ways than one) of a New York ad agency circa 1960.

This show never really scored with audiences during its first season and only by the skin of its teeth limped to a renewal for season two.

The folks at AMC TV who green-lit this show evidently believed in it enough to give it another chance.

Between season one and two, the critics had their say, and Mad Men scored two Golden Globes, including one for “Best Television Series – Drama” and a slew of other awards and nominations, including 18 Emmy noms.

Also during this time repeat airings of the first season and a DVD release sparked more interest.

Cut To:

Season two.

And this headline:

That’s double the first season average.

Heretofore, AMC had been best known as that cable network that runs all the old movies, but not as old as the ones on Turner Classic Movies. But in part as a result of Mad Men, AMC’s overall ratings are up and the network is suddenly transformed into a destination, not simply a utility.

If you think about it, the similarities between a movie network that plays all familiar and popular old movies and a typical radio station running familiar and popular old songs is more than coincidental.

AMC broke from the pack by taking some tremendous risks on talent. Then AMC gave the fruit of that talent time to ripen, even when it looked as if the audience had already spoken. AMC bet on quality. They took a chance. And they put their money where their proverbial mouth was.

It seems obvious to me that the future of radio will lead us to one of two scenarios:

One: Where radio stations trim and carve their way to a bare bones utility listened to for those in the habit when other options are not available.

Two: Where radio stations bet on quality and on talent, take a chance, and put their money where their proverbial mouths are.

We have the advantage of universal access, ease of use, and strong leads in the workplace and the car in particular.

What a shame if we squander these advantages, all for lack of vision and out of an abundance of fear.

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