Years ago, I was the Creative Services Director for a cluster of radio stations just outside Nashville. There was one week in my career, I almost quit radio for completely polar reasons.
Incident #1: The Idiot
I’m driving through town, listening to the “competition”, and the morning show host is doing a live commercial/endorsement for a jewelry store. He was talking about meeting the staff and owners for the first time – obviously a new advertiser for them. The jock was talking about the moment he walked in the door, and his first impression of the store. He said, “When you walk in, the place is amazing! I mean, it’s like…I just can’t describe it…”
I came unglued.
I started shouting at the radio in my car, “YOU CAN’T DESCRIBE IT!!?? IT’S YOUR JOB!!”
That is my seven word response…I’m pretty sure, in the car, I used eight words.
This idiot, who is hired to talk, tell stories, describe what is going on in his world and in mine, can’t even execute the most basic job requirement of the position: communicate! If I were his boss, we would have had a biiiiig sit down after that show.
If I were the sales boss, we would had a biiiiig sit down after the show, too. Not only did he make the station look like idiots, also in that one sentence, he made every salesperson’s job 1000% harder. Trying to convince people that radio is a fantastic medium for advertising because of it’s powerful visual images, is kind of hard to convey when the #1 employee of the radio station, can’t even do it himself!
I was screaming, beating the steering wheel, almost called the station and reamed him out myself.
I almost quit that day, because some morning show host couldn’t do his job, and thereby made my job almost impossible.
Incident #2: The Genius
Few people are able to tell a story like Paul Harvey. If you don’t know who he is, you need to google “Paul Harvey The Rest Of The Story” and get an education.
Paul Harvey knew the power of radio and could captivate an audience like no other. Even when he did his daily news broadcast, it was something special. He drew you in, you weren’t just listening to the story, you were reliving the event and witnessed it first hand!
During his newscast, Mr. Harvey would deftly slip in one of his own personal endorsement commercials…many times you wouldn’t even know it he was so good.
This one day, I’m driving down the road, listening to his noon news and he starts talking about a trip he and his wife took over the summer – to a boys’ ranch that takes in troubled and at-risk young men.
And he starts to show us…
…the pictures from his trip…
He describes the cabins the boys sleep in, the mess hall where they eat all their meals. And I will never forget, he showed us the bend in the river, and right around the corner was a civil war battlefield.
I was in silent shock. I had to pull over. My hands were shaking uncontrollably and I couldn’t see the road because of the tears pouring out of my eyes.
Paul Harvey had just shown me pictures from his summer vacation.
I thought to myself, “What am I doing in this business? I’ll never be able to do that!” I don’t remember how long I sat along the side of the road, in shock, in disbelief, incredulous. Wondering, what was I going to do now since radio was out of the question?
After several days of processing the two incidents, I came to this conclusion: God decided to show me the two extremes, so I could appreciate the great and recognize it in contrast to the “not-so-great.”
I’ve decided to use both experiences to push forward and do what I know radio can do for a client – captivate, engross, bring to tears, rejoice. I’ve seen both ends of the spectrum and I know it’s attainable.
What do you want in your radio commercials? “I just can’t describe it”? or “…the bend in the river where the civil war battle was fought?”