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What Radio can learn from Otis

He stops traffic.  Literally.

When my wife and I take him to public places crowds swarm around him, iPhones clicking away.

He’s Otis, our 145-pound Newfoundland.  And he teaches the lesson of attention.

Attention is scarce always – never more than today.  Bright and shiny objects abound, many of which substitute for the same or similar functions of the traditional radio experience, but always with something new.  These objects compete for our limited attention, and it’s the tried and true that are most at risk of falling by the wayside because even though they may be used habitually and universally, habit and reach are no guarantee of attention.

Indeed, habit and reach are likely to lead to less attention, because they surround products that are taken for granted.

What’s more likely to attract your attention, that dog breed you’ve seen a million times before or the massive and mysterious animal you just mistook for a bear?  The former represents how we too often define “radio,” while the latter is something new, something surprising, something attention-grabbing.

So the lesson for radio is: Don’t settle for the stale argument that radio’s everyoneness and everywhereness is what make it special for audiences or for advertisers.  In fact, these make radio the opposite of special.

“Special” is what you do next, not what got you here.  “Special” is what makes you stand out, not what your consumers have always taken for granted.  “Special” is what strikes an emotional chord, not simply what’s conveniently located in the car dash.  As super-chef Gordon Ramsay said on one of his TV shows recently, “a ‘special’ cannot be the same thing every day, year after year.”

Don’t take it from me or from Gordon.

Take it from the our 145-pound “gentle giant” who, as Lord Byron wrote about his own Newfoundland, possesses “Beauty without Vanity, Strength without Insolence, Courage without Ferosity, and all the virtues of Man without his Vices.”

Take it from Otis.

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