Who are you and what do you believe?

“Who you are speaks so loudly, I can’t hear what you’re saying,” Ralph Waldo Emerson once said.

But in radio, we’re too often uncertain of who we are as a station and a brand, thus we lean heavily on what we can say, as if words can substitute for meaning in the absence of meaning.

So it’s worthwhile asking, “Why should I care about what you’re saying if I can’t tell who you are?”

Saying “we’re a Classic Rock station” is like Patagonia saying “we’re outdoor clothing outfitters.” Yes, but so what?

Check out how Patagonia approaches this problem, in the words of founder Yvon Chouinard:

Patagonia’s image arises directly from the values, outdoor pursuits, and passions of its founders and employees. While it has practical and nameable aspects, it can’t be made into a formula. In fact, because so much of the image relies on authenticity, a formula would destroy it. Ironically, part of Patagonia’s authenticity lies in not being concerned about having an image in the first place. Without a formula, the only way to sustain an image is to live up to it. Our image is a direct reflection of who we are and what we believe.

So who is your station and what do you believe?

And are you using those beliefs as perceptual battering rams – gimmicks – aimed purely at seducing an audience? Or are those beliefs true and honest and designed to attract the listeners who share them?

Who are you and what do you believe?

If your station is in the game only to make money, don’t be surprised if listeners fail to sign up.

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