I know just enough about advertising and marketing to be dangerous and to enjoy watching The Gruen transfer on the ABC.
I believe from my marketing studies that a key concept for success is “The right message to the right people at the right time using the right medium” And by medium I mean the right distribution channel not a person with an Ouija board.
Rock and roll exists because it was the right message to the right people at the right time using the right medium.
That is rock and roll was the right message to the right people [the new market segment of teenagers] at the right time [after the second world war] using the right medium [radio].
Without radio it would not have spread around the world so easily and allowed regional artists to become international pop stars. How else would there have been the critical mass to allow for rock and roll and the resulting youth movement to explode. Into every house and car came the latest and greatest hits from USA and England to a waiting youth worldwide.
Again in the 70s the of the FM band helped fuel the adult oriented rock scene as rock and roll came of age and moved into its 20s. Any major artist operating at that time relied on radio for their crack at stardom.
After punk and new wave the resulting alternate scene still had college and independent radio to help kick-start careers and maybe crossover to commercial radio and become big stars.
Of course things were already changing. Film clips, MTV and its successors and then the BIG disrupter downloadable music has changed the way we listen to music, find and support new artists and even dismiss or prolong endlessly the old. Radio purely and simply lost its importance.
So now independent and government radio stations seem to exist to educate, communify their listeners and play the niches from death metal to reggae. And this is good; I am a big fan of Radio National and the independent stations like triple Z and PBS.
And Commercial radio stations that supposedly play music now seem to exist to do little more than run seemingly endless ads, usually inane and completely lacking in creativity or humour interspersed with whatever playlist supposedly reflects their targeted audience demographic. Needless to say I try to avoid this at all costs but I do have a 15 year old daughter so unfortunately some exposure is unavoidable.
But the above is not the worst of it.
The worst of it is the ridiculous billboards. Yes the billboards.
Why is it that radio, a key part of the advertising and marketing industry in Australia feel the only way to advertise their wares are huge billboards on main roads. The billboards, in a not so surprising lack of creativity feature the station logo, the headshots of 2 or 3 people and their first names. That’s it. Almost all of these people are not well known let alone famous so what is the point?
I mean if the names were Adolph, Madonna and Gough with the headshots you might expect well then you would give it a listen. But these people play music, make crank calls, give away bribe money so you bother to stay tuned, sell shit and purely and simply crap on. In terms of fame at best you get a retired sportsperson and a comedian who now needs a regular gig as they have a family now. Which would be ok if they were funny.
But not surprisingly being funny three hours a day Monday to Friday especially when you are up at 4.00am for the breakfast shift is a big ask for the best of them.
The rest of them are drones that we are supposed to relate to because they have the same issues with the kids or the boss that we have, or one of them, not surprisingly usually the woman is a bit thick or a bit controversial.
Have you noticed there are no names that aren’t English in origin and everyone is white?
Are most of us that desperate for friendship or just human interaction that we tune to a station because it features Macka, Smacka and Wendy for breakfast, Chuckie, Lucky and Jane for afternoons?
Have you noticed it is never two females together or two females with a male?
Why do they endlessly tell us their names or more often their nicknames during every break between the ads and the music?
I can’t work out the appeal of it and I certainly can’t work out why this is a winning marketing strategy that they seem to think it is. Especially as even the stations themselves through their marketing efforts seem to think that these talking heads are indistinguishable from each other anyway.
If it is about personality, then roll the dice have one host like the late night talk shows or like Ellen or Oprah and have lots of guests. Actually make an effort and make it memorable.
Or just be honest like the channels on TV and run 24 hour ads.
Or just broadcast Spotify, it will be cheaper.
Or just acknowledge that as a medium for music, Radio is mostly no longer right.