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What Radio Needs is “Soul”

This is from my friend Beau Phillips, the EVP of Programming at Dial Global, a major radio industry content syndicator.

Dear DG programmers and personalities;

Last year, a research company asked 12,000 listeners “What do you like most about radio?”

Their #1 response was “it’s convenient”. Sadly, we have become a commodity to people. Like a foot stool, radio is there when you need it.

Over the years, radio settled into a comfort zone. We hired jocks for their deep voices and witty chatter. As long as you owned the radio tower, you could dictate what people heard. And we convinced ourselves that this would last forever.

So, what happened? I believe that radio has lost its soul.

Adele has soul – the Black Eyed Peas don’t. Howard Stern has soul – Ryan Seacrest doesn’t. George Strait has soul – Rascal Flatts don’t. Apple has soul – Microsoft doesn’t. Blame consolidation, voice-tracking-liner-readers or the dearth of great PDs to develop personalities. But with competition surrounding us, radio lost its soul at the wrong time.

You’ve heard me say that jukeboxes are fine for diners, but they make lousy radio stations. That’s why our programming team works so hard to work with our jocks. Great personalities connect with their audience in a genuine, relatable way. Adele, Howard and Strait resonate because they sound authentic – and their fans feel it. For radio to thrive, personalities better find some soul again, and fast.

So how can you have soul?

  1. Embrace change. Challenge yourself. It’s like breaking in a new pair of shoes – awkward at first. But you’ll be better for it.

  2. Have courage. DG may be the only company in America who’s not squeezing you into a 7 second box. We want you to relate to your listeners and engage them. So take advantage of it!

  3. Break out of the formula. The days of cliché-filled breaks are over. So, ditch the corny, catch phrases that gunk up your show. Break up the predictable pattern. Try doing a show without saying your name. Or stop the “that was (artist), this is (artist), I am (name) routine”.

  4. Make an emotional connection. Make your listeners think, or laugh, or cry or feel inspired…every hour.

  5. Be relevant. Every format must sound contemporary, in the moment…even the gold-based formats. They may see an old face in the mirror, but want to stay connected with today.

Radio operators are scrambling to be heard on-air, online and via cellphones. But unless your station has soul, it really doesn’t matter.

(Posted with permission of the author)

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