Let Go Of Our Ears, We Know What We’re Doing

This might be more controversial than I want it to be. I begin by admitting this to all radio station owners, and corporate moguls- the true success of a radio station is REVENUE, not how good it sounds.

But it’s almost impossible to have one without the other. If you need a plumber, you don’t call a carpet layer. Need gardening done? You don’t call your dentist. My point is simple.

TOO MANY STATIONS these days have program directors and music directors under them that have ownership meddling in music-making decisions. Too many “consultants” have their crooked little fingers (assuming they have gout, there’s nothing crooked about consultants) on station playlists where program and music directors have been hired with little or no experience on how to spot, listen for, or anticipate a hit. They’re freaking puppets. Burning music into the system as directed.

You can argue my point by saying I’m a long time programmer in a small town. What the hell do I know?

I know this much. I know that 8 or 9 times out of 10, I will put a song in rotation, even move it to heavy, and weeks later some station in a medium, large, or major market gets credit for “breaking” the song to the nation. I have not been unemployed in this industry my entire career, and most of those years, I’ve served as a music and/or program director. While true the time I’ve spent has been in smaller markets, some of that is by choice. I hear a hit many, many times before it becomes one. It’s not bragging or blowing your own horn if you back it up with fact. And, I can.

How in the world can a corporate PD or consultant sitting in an office in Milwaukee, do I know if a song will be a hit in the deep south, the midwest, or the west coast? And just as importantly, am I more than vaguely familiar with the core audience and their listening habits? You listen to radio for completely different reasons in different parts of the country. This one size fits all that has gone on for way too long, and has damaged commercial radio, perhaps irreparably.

To be the most effective with music you play for YOUR market’s audience, you must live and work there and be the one making the music decisions. It’s nice to have help in that process. But, the ultimate veto power of any song, or the suggestion and/or insistence to ADD one, has to be left up to the LOCAL PD/MD of your cluster.

You can work on the fine tuning points of any station from afar. You can have listen lines installed, log in and listen on-line, do all of that…..but if you don’t LIVE in the market, you can’t effectively program in the market.

I think I speak for many PD’s and MD’s out there who have their hands behind their back, a muzzle on their mouth, and get on Skype once a week to nod “yes” or “no” to somebody that really shouldn’t be programming the music for their station(s). You don’t hire a golf pro to teach a preacher how to deliver a sermon.

In other words, let go of our ears. We know what we’re doing.