CLEAR! Buzz. THWACK…flatline. The Sound of Creativity

Posted on December 6, 2011


I am in Baltimore at the 2011 Arbitron Client Conference and Jacobs Media Seminar which is full of great speakers and interesting presentations I’m confident will spark a number of great blog posts… next week. In the meantime, you can keep up with the biggest developments at the seminar by following @arbprogramming on Twitter. 

While I travel I have engaged a few good friends, who are great broadcasters, to share their thoughts in a series of guest posts starting with today’s observations by Mike Crank, one of the best creative imaging people I’ve ever worked with.

Crank currently works for CBS/Los Angeles doing imaging and production for 106.7 KROQ and 93-1 Jack FM. He also co-authored the book “Braindead Creative Help” that I highly recommend you pick up. You can hear his demo and learn more about the book here.

CLEAR! Buzz. THWACK…flatline.

CLEAR! Buzz. THWACK…flatline.

Does that sound like your radio station?

You come up with a great creative idea – CLEAR!

You run down to the PD’s office and pitch it – Buzz. THWACK!

Your PD says, “Hmmm…I don’t think so.” – Flatline.

Or worse…3 months later:

Your PD comes into your studio – CLEAR!

Your PD tells you her great idea which is the exact one you told her about – THWACK

Your PD implements the idea immediately, and takes full credit – Flatline (to your spirit).

It’s time to keep throwing more great ideas in your PDs face; over and over and over.

Make her say, “Okay now what?” every time you pop in the office. Because its time to look at your gig as part of a team effort. Sure she stole your idea…or did she? Maybe just by your suggestion, it finally sank in. Maybe the timing wasn’t just right…and maybe…just maybe, you’re not the only one throwing out good ideas.

If you’re the creative director or imaging guy or production director – whatever the hell you call yourself…own it. With radio taking a beating day in and day out by industry haters, magazine bashing and brand-killing research, it’s time for real creative content and ideas. Let’s throw out all the old, cliché, tired “Radio 101” and make your station the elite brand in your town. That’s right the ELITE brand in your town.

No more radio wars with the rock station across town (throwing paint thinner on the competition’s van is illegal and just plain stupid), no more pointless tag lines (“today’s best music”), no more DJs reading liner cards.

Let’s start fresh.

Everything from the placement of advertisements to the look of the station logo, to the frequency of new music and personalities added. If you answer the question, “Why do we do it this way,” with the answer, “Because that’s how we’ve always done it.” Then it may be time to CHANGE IT.

Let’s start with 2 easy improvements

1. Stop bragging.

Radio (especially pop and rock) have a bad habit of yelling about how they’re the best, the newest, the greatest, the Number One, blah, blah, blah. No one cares. People twist the knob and hold down the Scan button until they hear something entertaining…then, they stop and listen. For example: stop barking about how your station plays the most variety but then researches the hell out of Nickelback…and just PLAY A BIGGER VARIETY OF SONGS.

Prove that you play the most variety by… say.. I  dunno…ACTUALLY PLAYING THE MOST VARIETY.

2. Let your DJs / announcers / personalities talk

What? Actually allow the DJs to say something? That’s ridiculous right? HELL NO.

The fact is that traditional broadcast radio will NEVER be able to musically compete with my iPod or your subscription to Rhapsody, or commercial-free choices on satellite,but will kill all of them if the radio station provides entertaining content you can’t get anywhere else.

Take a cue from pop radio and add tons and tons of new music, let the listeners weigh in. Allow your morning show to play out a bit longer than 10 minutes if it’s going well. Expect your DJs to show off new music, tell interesting stories of classic artists, or personal stories that identify them with their listeners and – uh oh, here comes an idea that might make your PD have a panic attack – let the DJs choose a few songs to play during their shifts…OH NO… AAAAARRRRRGGHHH!!!

I could go on and on until I get so pissed off that I go down a six-pack of Red Bull and jump around like a 2 year old on crack, but I won’t. Instead I’ll take this opportunity to pimp the book I wrote with Trevor Shand here at KROQ and Jack FM. It’s called Braindead Creative Help, and it’s written poorly with tons of grammar and spelling errors, but if you can look past that and just highlight the paragraphs that you think will get your boss to maybe change something…then buy it. If you don’t want to buy it then download a free chapter from our website or better yet, find someone else to buy it and then steal it from them.

You can hear more of Crank’s passion or learn more about his book on Facebook or by following  @braindeadc .