The First Resurrection
In the early 50’s, television was the new media king and radio faced extinction. Two owners, Gordon McLendon and Todd Storz are credited with giving birth to Top 40 and music formatting. Then in the 60’s, Bill Drake and Gene Chenault took things one step further with “Boss Radio” - a format dedicated to making the music the star, highlighted by personalities taught to entertain in a concise up-tempo manner without clutter. Along the way came more innovators: Rick Sklar, Paul Drew, Mike Joseph, Buzz Bennett, Sonny Joe White, Ken Dowe, Lee Abrams, Jerry Clifton, Jim Randolph, Ron Jacobs, Jack McCoy, Jerry Boulding, Jim Maddox, and Bob Pittman.
Traditional radio is a part of old media, accustom to controlling the outflow of entertainment and information. There lies the problem; consumers are involved in new media. They contribute, participate, and set the tone for public opinion. Radio must revolutionize its playbook and use this approach to begin a rebirth. Think in terms of one unit and inter-linking the two related media worlds. Old media is proud of what it required to become a part of an elite club, the apprenticeship of hard knocks and years of field experience. Today, anyone with a computer can communicate and shape thoughts of others.
The answer for old media to flourish again is easy: let go of the control and retool the model. Many owners, vice presidents, and general managers are under the delusion that all radio people are created equal. Therefore, working down to a price and not up to a standard has become the norm. Only innovation and vision can re-invent the radio industry.