Friday, April 2, 2010

Who's Turning Off Whom?

By Frank Absher

Sometimes it’s hard to explain the basics behind the decisions of radio management.

A few nights ago we hosted a small dinner party, and, being a typical guy, I decided to put on some background music through the whole-house sound system I installed (which was quite a challenge since the house is 115 years old).

My choice of formats was infinite since I’ve wired our Internet radio into the system. I chose something basic that I thought might appeal to the group: AOL’s Classic Soul channel. It was interesting to see the reactions.

One of the women commented how great the music selection was. Pretty soon one of the men echoed her comments. Then another woman, who was also impressed, asked what station we were listening to.

I explained that it wasn’t a radio station, per se, but rather an Internet music stream. That’s what started the questioning.

Why, they wanted to know, couldn’t we have a local station that played this great selection of music?

I began listing all the reasons: niche format, too specialized, not on any radar as a hot format, etc.

They weren’t buying it.

That’s when I told them no one in commercial music radio is interested in them as listeners. That prompted silence.

But it’s true! Here was a group of couples, each with a net worth well into 7 figures. If they want something, they buy it. They all grew up as part of an active music audience, seeking out what they liked. They are the ones who, if Springsteen or Billy and Elton come to town, buy the concert tickets without a second thought, in spite of the price. They buy stuff they want, even when it’s not on sale. And, they’re all over 50.
In the eyes of radio programmers, life has passed these people by.

So be it. The old farts around our dinner table enjoyed the automated, computer-selected play list, and one of the couples decided to buy an Internet radio the next day.

It should be noted that this purchase wasn’t driven by an advertisement heard on terrestrial radio. The decision was made because the couple concluded they no longer have any interest in terrestrial radio, just as terrestrial radio has decided it no longer has any interest in having them as listeners.\

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