InsideRadio.com has an article today that gives me hope–when stuff like radio consultant John Mainelli’s piece on true “young guy talk” formats can get published in the most read radio trade pub, maybe somebody out there in radio management is close to being ready to listen. First, the article is cleverly marketed–as if Mainelli were giving away a “50-million-dollar format idea” for free. Here, read it yourself, first an excerpt, then the link:

Two ingredients: humor and subversive-ness. Tell me what young guy doesn’t crave both, won’t tell all his friends, and won’t force his girlfriend to listen? In these lawyered-up days of tight-assed P.C., young guys need freedom. A chance to laugh. A chance to satirize. A chance to vent. (Can you believe Fox’s over-bleeping at the Emmys?)

Here, read the whole thing. (If it’s gone when you get there, sorry. I’ll try to get the copy and re-post it here, later.)

The bottom line on Mainelli’s clever and admirable, yet blatant pitch for new consulting business: radio people don’t understand talk radio, don’t much like it, don’t give it a chance to work, and over-manage it. Radio needs to regrow its spine, get away from cheap yuks, and develop real talent. The people who can do great radio are hidden in plain sight. What the business needs is managers and owners who can pry themselves away from the Wall Street scene and learn again that this is more than business. It’s show business. You can’t run show business from the balance sheet. Period.

Afterthought: In the past I’ve been vocal about the whole pottymouth deejay and talk-jock scene, from Howard Stern on down. I still hate it, but I’m conflicted. I don’t think radio people spend much time thinking about what’s good for the country, or their fellow men, and other demos. I think there’s a hole in every market for something fresh, new and wholesome-without-sweetness. Ellen DeGeneres is a good example of humor-subversiveness without dirty words and meanness. That said, creating verbal trainwrecks and ugliness eruptions is what media is all about these days. I guess I can admire Mainelli’s assertion in spite of disliking much of the potential baggage it carries: real talent can be coached and radio (and other media) can manage itself without one finger on the panic button. I hope so. But I’m guessing radio’ll have to get much worse before it gets better.


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GREAT MARKETING, GOOD THINKING. COULD RADIO GET ITS MOJO BACK?

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hertzsketch1
Heinrich Hertz's experiments proved the existence of electromagnetic radiation. Cycles-per-second, the standard measure of radio wave frequency, was named for him. He died in 1894, at 37. Wikipedia: Hertz

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STERN-3
What do you do with a problem like Howard? After decades of profits and FCC indecency fines as routine budget items, Howard Stern, king of all pottymouth radio guys, followed his enabler Mel Karmazin to Sirius Satellite Radio, leaving CBS to make up a hundred million in revenue (They sold stations) and fill the void for the half of Howard's loyal audience who didn't choose to buy a new radio and pay fifteen bucks a month for a few more, ranker epithets.
Wikipedia: Stern

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PALEY-S
CBS might have become the Cigar Broadcasting System. William S. Paley was the scion of the family business. In 1927, his cigar tycoon dad, Samuel, bought the struggling network of early radio stations from a group of poor schlumps who were trying to – would you believe: sell programming to radio stations! Every syndicator since has had to relearn that this doesn't work. Bill and his dad figured out the right business model -- you sell commercials to advertisers, and give the programs to stations. Got it?
Wikipedia: Paley
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