Live & Local Radio Sunday Nights

Recently I spoke to the broadcasters who attended my teaching seminar at the Conclave in Minneapolis that young listeners want to hear new music -- and that they wished that djs would play their own music.

This corporate record list stuff -- the fabric that runs through all of us -- is overrated.

We know what's best, right?

The playlist must be controlled by a program director. After all, ratings are a factor, aren't they? And what insures against payola like a program director in charge of the playlist?

While radio was out regionalizing and nationalizing its music, the next generation won control of today's technology and they have become the djs. Where a radio jock might have told their listeners what was "hot" in previous times, they have no credibility with the next generation.

Gen Y has Facebook, MySpace, Pandora -- and, of course, Limewire -- the better to steal music.

But, radio had it right in some ways back in the payola days of the 50's. DJs playing their own music. Now young people are demanding djs who actually know something about the artists and music.

Otherwise, an iPod will do just fine.

My suggestion to the Conclave audience was to take a time slot that wouldn't hurt them -- and do the unthinkable -- put on a dj to play his or her own music in the general genre of the radio station format.

The rules:

1. Stay out of it.

2. Don't program it -- 9 pm to 1 am sounds nice. Keep the PD away from this show. (And if you're a PD, I am cringing as I write that line).

3. No playlist.

3. Let it be free flowing. Include nterviews. Recently I wrote about the success Bob Dylan was having with his XM radio show by just playing records and talking the way Bob Dylan talks.

Next, watch the audience gather. If the show is good, listeners will tune in. Then take the show to local ad agencies and sell some ads. But, it would be a mistake to accept produced commercials. Sunday night djs -- music experts -- would have more street cred if they would simply talk about the product and/or service.

One of the knocks on radio is that it is so vanilla. Okay, I'm being nice -- it's boring. The consolidation cutbacks don't sound good on the air. There are fewer reasons to be drawn to a radio.

The truth is that too many radio operators have already sold their stations to the devil after 7 pm at night.

Hell, 5o stations have sold their stations to the Premiere syndication devil for Ryan Seacrest -- before 7 pm at night!

The devil, you ask?

Yes, syndicators. Barter deals. Cheap programming.

You may find that your listeners don't have to be under 30 to become addicted to an extremely knowledgeable local personality who knows best what the audience really wants to hear.

This cooperates with what I think terrestrial radio should become -- appointment listening rather than what it is right now -- 24/7 jukebox playing the same 30 songs.

Radio people really are very brilliant.

They've done world class programming on a dime for years. I don't know about you but I programmed in a top four market and no one ever gave me the budget that I needed (and in some cases, even the signal).

So, if you're open to new (old) ideas -- and you're not already running a music-picking dj doing a Sunday night show -- take a programming hint from the next generation.

Your station may be born again of necessity in a world where radio has lost its way and lost the crucial next generation of radio listeners in the process.

I saw that Jupiter study showing radio remains the power in music discover. I just shook my head.

Have a child? A teen? A college student?

Young people turn to the Internet, iTunes, iPods, Limewire and each other through social networking to find out what's cool. Not radio.

And that's because radio people are content to believe bogus studies that minimize the impact of new media on radio.

If you want to be known for music discovery -- discover Sunday nights at 9 pm -- and take a step into the future.

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