More and more often, Radio is ruled by quants.
But great radio, legendary radio, cannot be created by mathematicians.
Once math and statistics become the controlling force for how your station sounds, you’re on the road to sameness, the bland result of trying to offend no one and to game PPM.
There isn’t just one way to make a radio station great.
There isn’t only one formula for the length of non-musical content that listeners will love.
The idea that if you’ll win if you just weed out songs people don’t like in your bi-annual music test, and if you just limit your break length to x seconds and only schedule your breaks in these precise windows, is a false one.
The reason that isn’t clear to everyone instantly is because no one is challenging it in American radio today.
Great radio stations rarely sound like any other radio stations.
Great air talent cannot be easily replaced because it’s the very uniqueness of their voice and the things they say on air that attracts so many listeners. That basic difference is the whole point!
Can you imagine Picasso forced to paint the same basic image and put it on the same size canvas over and over again?
Of course you can’t. He would never, ever be so constrained.
I keep hoping that somewhere in America, one company, one GM, one PD will be given the opportunity to create a truly great radio station, a station that would’ve competed with WLS in its heyday, a station people will be drawn to because of what comes between the songs, a station that risks playing some songs some listeners might not like but which other listeners will definitely love with a passion few radio listeners show for our music anymore.
Creating something wonderful has nothing at all to do with math.
The sooner we understand that, and find the support to risk failure again, the better — and harder to ignore — radio will become.