A Passion Play

This is how you generate it

What makes a hit show? It’s like the old Supreme Court definition of porn: you know it when you see it.


These shows have one important thing in common: they don’t actually end when you stop watching.

The show is the start of an extended conversation on the web. It’s the topic around the water cooler at work.

These shows all inspire so much passion from their fans that each segment is almost immediately followed by tweets and blogs and real-time chat room conversations about the characters and plot lines.

Which leads me to this: When’s the last time your music radio station did anything to inspire this level of passion, devotion and involvement among your listeners?

Right about now you’re thinking, that’s ridiculous. How can you compare a drama on TV to my music radio station?

Here’s how: What this is really about is the content on your radio station.

Didn’t Howard Stern get this kind of passion from his listeners when he was on free radio? Ohhh, that’s right. He’s different. He’s a “shock jock.”

How about the Z100 Morning Show circa Scott Shannon or Ross & Wilson, or even Ryan Secrest’s Morning Show now on KIIS? You already know there’s an example from every market, even if it is sometimes 25 years old.

Isn’t the whole point that we’ve offered a lot of insipid happy talk and laughter, and vacuous, benchmarked ‘Battle of the Sexes’ games in place of content that actually involves real emotional investment from listeners, that actually engages real human drama, the stuff of life we all deal with every day but which we never hear on music radio?

Content that costs money, a lot of money, because it requires really talented people to think about it, and produce it, and edit it, and get enough of it to deliver 10 minutes an hour that are really, truly compelling radio?

Do you really believe people didn’t watch Jay Leno at 9pm because they didn’t like seeing him an hour earlier? That they loved the content but not the scheduling?

Wasn’t The Jay Leno Show the TV version of today’s radio Morning Show, even on most News/Talk stations?

C’mon! NBC wanted to save money, not create great programming.

This isn’t a medium issue, or a scheduling issue.

This is a content issue, which has become a money issue, and a commitment issue, and a belief issue.

When you give your listeners something compelling enough to talk about, they’ll talk about it.

When you touch your listeners’ emotional buttons often enough to become content they can’t miss, you’ll dominate your market’s ratings.

And when you don’t, you’ll get what you’ve got: Passive users who can’t pick most of your air staff out of a list of 10 random names.

They still listen. We’re just not making them care.

YOU control that. It’s within YOUR power to change.

So, change it.