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Country Music Radio: The Same Old Song and Dance
No matter what market or what station you listen to, Country radio has become very predictable, vanilla and way too music conversation-based. There seems to be an ignorance of the life group and zero catering to the droves of 25-54 adults that make up the most prolific listening segment in radio today.
No matter what the reasons are, they need to stop. We can blame it on spending an inordinate amount of time on corporate edicts, a sound that the company welcomes, but the Country lifegroup has no interest in listening to. The compilation of 90’s, 2000 songs and currents that are sirens songs to some, but to others: Not even a blip on the radar screen. Talent waist deep in breaks about nothing, Nashville scene, music breaks that mean nothing to the life group and listeners, constant talking about radio web sites that measure up to Pizza Hut or Pep Boys.
What happened to being a part of the community, talent lodged in the 4-H, local school fundraising projects, local bands and bar scenes, broadcasting on a Saturday morning from a church car wash or bake sale? – Oh I know, there’s nobody to run the board, it’s my weekend off, no one will care and my favorite, promotions doesn’t want to do it. Program Directors –
Take back your radio stations; quit programming them for anyone but the listeners. Talk to the community on the air, stop talking about what Taylor Swift wore on TV last night, let a listener bring it up. You will find that listeners love to hear other listeners talk about news and the buzz from the community, localisms, topicalities and interactions. What happened to communicating on the radio?
We should build our brands around entertaining the listener. Again: selling a music sweep or the new one from Jamey Johnson isn’t communicating with the life group – But if you put yourself into the song “High Cost Of Living” and divulge something about yourself that equals the powerful lyrics of that particular song, it sure beats “The latest from Jamey Johnson”.
Look, voice tracking and corporate designed format channels aren’t killing radio – We are! – We have limited the communications on our stations. We need to expand them.
When you are out notice things around you, talk to listeners and write their names down and something about them to talk about on the air. Program Directors, teach your talent how to talk to the Country life group. They like to hear fun; a connection and emotion come from the radio. This is what built the compendium of Citadel Country stations in the 90’s and what The Prime Minister of Twang: Scott Mahalick professes to his crews in San Francisco and Seattle.
I have talked to consultants and managers of radio stations that have told me their products have become stale and they don’t know what happened or understand after the fact, the program director and staff had no idea how to invoke a buzz to the listeners. Scott Shannon years ago called it transmitter vs. receiver radio. For listeners to accept it, it has to make a connection with the receiver. If you transmit pabulum, you will have lackluster results.
Radio is about having fun and making a profit – If a group of people treat this as a job and clock watch until they can go home, then the listeners are going to treat it the same way. Don’t tell me radio listeners went to the internet for music and other new technological devices. They went there because they were cool; radio has ceased to be cool. Think about 10 ways to make your station sound better and more approachable to your country life group every week. Don’t worry about all the administrative problems of the station and get busy making great radio.