Maslow’s Hammer

Are you the nail?

I get as frustrated with doomsayers saying Radio is done as I do with Radio and the current state of consolidated ownership.

Yes, listeners want far fewer interruptions and commercials. And this is a persistent and seemingly intractible problem for commercial radio given its current ownership and level of debt. This may be radio’s biggest problem: Greed and Need.

Yes, listeners want more personal control over what songs they hear. We’d all love to hear only what we want to hear — as long as every so often we got to hear something brand new that we absolutely LOVE that we didn’t know existed, and something we used to love that we never get to hear anymore, the “Oh, wow!” factor.

But face it, we already have that with our iTunes accounts and, maybe I’m very unusual (Ok, stop laughing, I know I’m very unusual) but the Pandora and Spotify algorithyms can’t seem to hit my sweet spot.

I have heard no evidence that said algorithyms are nearly as good as the best music programmers I know around the world are when it comes to picking long stretches of songs I absolutely love.

Yes, listeners want less inane DJ chatter. Each of us only wants to hear what interests us or what we find entertaining, and if you’re an on-air talent, you’d better say something really clever and funny and interesting and compelling within the first few seconds you start talking because we all have tons of choices now and very itchy button fingers.

However, I’ve seen nothing that persuades me that listeners want zero human interaction, zero sense of companionship from their sources for music.

Which means that liners aren’t a solution, they’re part of the problem, because humans don’t speak to other human friends the way our liners are now written and produced. If you do, you’re stranger than me, and that is terrifying.

Streaming services are an issue, but they do not spell the death throes for great radio. Like Maslow’s Hammer, they are built as if every bit of non-musical content was a nail.

And that’s just not the case.