Radio Nowhere

I’ve been listening to 92.9 WBOS radio here in Boston for probably 20 years. It’s got a nice mix of music I like and a staff of low key, likable DJs.

Recently, however, I noticed that that DJs aren’t around much anymore.  There’s music; there’s advertisements; there’s prerecorded celebrity promos… but no DJs.  I did some checking, and sure enough, they got rid of most of them (see article here)!

Apparently, they concluded that since listeners tend to shift stations when the music stops, having people introduce and talk about the music only gets in the way.

I think it’s a big mistake. I can get music anywhere — my iPod, CDs, TV, You Tube, etc.  What I can’t get anywhere are knowledgeable, local, DJs who make a human connection between me, the music and the radio station.  Take those guys away and it’s just a play list.

A lot of companies (big ones in particular) miss the fact that the thing they’re selling (in this case, music) isn’t the thing that keeps people coming back. It’s the personal connection that’s wrapped around the product or service itself.

When you remove that, in the name of saving money or increasing efficiency or improving ratings, you may as well shut off the lights for good.

2 thoughts on “Radio Nowhere

  1. Lissa Boles

    As a life coach who moonlights (for fun) as a Sunday Morning talk show host, I totally agree.
    I also think Radio is suffering a serious case of identity crisis right now (as are many industries). With all the alternative, play anywhere, have-it-your-own-way, advert-free customizable listening options today, Radio just can’t be what it once was. And it can’t count of doing what’s it’s used to doing either. It has to reinvent itself, think outside of the box – and as with people, reinvention tends not to go real well if the focus is strictly (and fearfully) bottom line.
    In this case, the station’s become little more than a glorified iTunes, and correct me if I’m wrong but there’s just no competing with that. The problem is Radio doesn’t know what to be anymore, and until it figures it out, the former heavy weight is going to play ‘me to’ to the up and comings.
    I love what DJ extraordinaire Daryl McLean is doing up here in Canada. His approach is smart, fresh, fun and amazingly real.
    Working as if he’s an independent, he started by producing two evening Beach Bonfire Bonanza shows a week that plays groovalicious summertime oldies from the 50’s, 60’s & 70’s on a teeny little market station with a very, very limited reach.
    But with live streaming audio to point to on the web, he combined blogging, social media and group chat to build relationships and engage a huge following (or tribe) across North America.
    Now that teeny station’s bottom line is looking pretty healthy as a result: it’s selling ad time to national accounts, and seeing itself in a whole new light.
    Daryl’s reinvented radio because he saw himself as radio, and combined old world with new tools.
    By tapping into the whole tribe phenomena, and seeing the possibilities others couldn’t see, he engaging with folks of like-mind who want to be a part of something they love.
    He’s given them a way to connect, but not just with him and the music they love. He gave them a way to connect with each other and be part of something bigger than themselves, to have a hand in building the show with him.
    They have a number of ways to hear and share what they think and feel, and why they love the music they love. To tell the stories of their lives together.
    Daryl’s audience has almost as much airtime as he does as DJ, and the on-line group chat surges during and after each show. Plus his audience is building through word of mouth from sites like Facebook.
    Result? His show’s about to be syndicated, which is fine by Daryl ‘cause he owns it: he had the foresight to trademark the name and theme as his own, even while he was being paid to DJ.
    All that said, Daryl has reinforced for me – as you yourself have done, Michael – that connection is really conversation, reciprocal, back and forth engagement. Most of us think of it as one way (which is largely what Radio’s used to being, with listeners being passive in the process) and talk or communicate in a particular way as a result. I’m starting to wonder if that’s not a big part of why for so many there’s limited to no response or rapor.
    Maybe the idea of connection itself is undergoing some reinvention…?

  2. Michael Katz

    Hey lady, you used up your quota of comment space! No, I mean good point.
    And I agree. For me, radio has always been about connecting (or not) with the DJs. They need more of it — like Daryl is doing — not less if they want to keep listeners. Thanks for sharing Daryl’s story.


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