Quicker Lines for Trying Times

Quick Lines for Trying TimesWe have come a long way in respect to broadcasting. A major part of the radio world, and the sole bread earner is advertising. Times were much simpler when radio began. Back in August of 1922 the first paid commercial made its way onto the air at WEAF. According to AT&T, the first sponsor was Queensboro Corporation of New York – advertising real estate. Commercials on the radio…this was strange and interesting to listeners.

Times are drastically different in our world today. DVRs and other choices provide listeners and viewers with the ability to run right past the commercials to something they find more interesting. Kathy Sierra of ‘HeadRush’ puts it simply:

“To pay continuous partial attention is to pay partial attention – CONTINUOUSLY.”

Sierra, avid blogger, explains how we want to connect and be connected. “We want to effectively scan for opportunity and optimize for the best opportunities, activities, and contacts, in any given moment. To be busy, to be connected, is to be alive, to be recognized, and to matter.” This applies drastically to the music and radio industry. The time that someone has to pay attention to a program is getting smaller and smaller. This means BIG problems for advertisers and clients that inevitably cause MAJOR problems for radio advertising dollars. One of the best graphs that I’ve seen in a while, keeping in mind that I can’t stand math, is the Twitter Curve.

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With the amount of electronic devices and an ability to ALWAYS be connected to a network, a group, a bigger picture, people lose sight of the little picture. What I’m discussing here is more than just radio. As Sierra puts it, we are living in “some sort of hyper continuous-partial-attention-enabled state of being.” I agree with this assertion and further it with each generation up until X or Y, whichever one we’re up to now, is all the more capable of processing this type of attention that I’ve mentioned compared to the preceding generation. Things like cell phones in the ‘90s and the then the Internet opened up Pandora’s Box. We want information and direct contact faster and faster and we are getting it. Today, we’ve moved beyond Myspace and Facebook and on to Twitter. Here, immediate information/response in news and life as it is happening make this major network increasingly popular as more and more people join. Time continuum morphs into a new form. Have we surpassed the threshold of that which the brain can hold and keep up with?

I’m not digressing, there is a direct tie to radio-land. This age of Twitter and the like is a new age for advertisers. With more and more people turning to their iPod as a way to listen ONLY to their specific music, thus helping avoid commercials on stations. Clients are catching on, radio is not bringing the droves of people to the advertiser that it “used” to (the same way the remote and on-demand channels changed the habits of television viewers). In a recent interview with the #1 CHR radio station’s morning show host, Elvis Duran, he brings up many valid points concerning this topic. In regard to radio stations, Duran mentions other Top 40 radio stations not being the only form of competition anymore. Going back to people being continuous-partial-attention-enabled, listeners prefer immediate gratification.

When it comes to radio programming, Elvis Duran points out that another radio station or an iPod are only a few types of competition. Many radio stations are trying to offset competition with the iPod by increasing the time between commercial interruptions. The main problem with this strategy is that it is opposite the need to be MORE continuous-partial-attention-enabled. Our good ‘ole blogger friend, Sierra, suggests a radio format where there is NO audio clip that exceeds ten seconds. Don’t freak out and hide in a corner scared of what clients will think…yet. She says that everything, including news, songs, announcements AND advertisements would be expandable on the website, and the 10 second (or less) clips play every day, every week with the major point of programming to drive listeners back to the radio station’s website. I do not agree with this, completely. People expect music, hearing ten seconds of your favorite song followed by 10 seconds of… who knows what and so on does not seem like a hot draw for people. I suggest refining this idea to keeping it pure music, assuming it’s a music format, and making ALL other audio (commercials, announcements etc.) under ten seconds. Then drive to the website for full advertising and announcements.

That’s what I think, there is no right or wrong idea, unless you carry it out and it fails, or succeeds. It’s like what my good friend Dave Foxx (Creative Service Director of ClearChannel NY) told me shortly after we met: Opinions are like asses, everyone has them.” It’s time for the radio industry to wake up and shake things up – something needs to be done, fast. We are tweeters and we are living in a twitterful world.

About the author:
Nick Parker LiveNick Parker is the creator of Nick Parker Live! With experience in one of the top markets in the nation, Parker stands out from the rest. Unlike other voice and production people out to make a quick buck, Parker puts a lot of effort into not only his work, but your work too. You can visit his site at www.nickparkerlive.com to follow him at twitter.com/nickparkerlive

Nick Parker Interviews Dave Foxx

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