Relaxed FCC regulations, consolidation, and creative financing have placed traditional radio at peril. This final installment of a three part series will attempt to provide some solutions for revitalization.
Road to Recovery
The first place to start is with the sound of the stations. Enough with syndication, put local faces on the brand. Syndication has been successful because listeners have not had many options. Other answers to the problems include experienced programmers, training talent, guiding existing personalities, a balance between sales and programming needs, sharpening station presentation, resurrecting the creative production position, refocusing on the importance of music, and a return to individualized station thought; competition breeds creative adrenaline. One more thing, discontinue the trend of one individual programming multiple formats; it kills competitive juices and self-accomplishment.
Jock Presentation and Music Flow
Regardless of rating services, market size, or Portable People Meter methodology, the backbone of contemporary music radio has always been music flow and presentation. Personalities need to sharpen their skills, return to entertaining in a concise manner without getting in the way of a song. What can be said in a paragraph can be said in one or two sentences. Morning listeners require more moments of talk time, however, the presentation should still be word efficient.
All jocks have the ability; it takes show prep, practice, and discipline. The forefathers of the modern day music format demanded concise entertainment from its announcers. It is about the personality becoming a companion to the listener and the music, making everything sound exciting and raising expectations.
Formats need to adjust to the musical needs of the majority of Generation X. People get older and bring their music tastes with them. President elect Barack Obama is typical of his generation; he likes Rock, R&B, and Hip-Hop.
Prior to consolidation, visionary programmers would have probably already updated formats instead of dealing with ownership financial worries. Stations better do something to hold the 25-54 year old listeners; free radio is still part of their audio choices. The Y Generation has a different set of issues that could be addressed through a merge of technologies.
Traditional radio web sites are the next place to start; the majority are cookie cutter sites negotiated through third parties in exchange for commercial airtime. Companies that contracted for such deals usually use dated templates to build the site, serve as web host administrator, and utilize independent contractors to maintain the site. Other than someone in promotions or a designate affiliated with programming, stations do not have control of their web properties.