Radio & the NFL

What does it teach us?

By all accounts, NFL owners were surprised by the massive public outrage engendered by Roger Goodell’s handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence issue.

They just didn’t get it.

What they failed to grasp is the understanding that brands don’t control us; we, the customers supporting the brand, control them.

And millions of us are very uncomfortable supporting a brand that is now inextricably linked to big men beating women. That association in our minds doesn’t make us feel better about ourselves when we interact with the NFL brand.

The vehemence of the responses to the photos of Adrian Peterson’s bruised and bloody 4-year-old son is a measure of our shame that this can happen in America today

And shame is a powerful emotion.

In the face of that kind of violence, we forget all the good done in local communities by most members of their teams. And the NFL has always done a good job of linking us to images that show that NFL players care.

What does this have to do with Radio?

Only that it caused me to reflect on how much good Radio does in its local markets, and how rarely we hear those stories.

Every station I’ve ever worked with feels a deep sense of connection with its community of listeners.

When disaster strikes, Radio is usually among the first responders, coordinating volunteers, raising and/or donating funds and materials to rebuild, focusing attention on those that need the most help.

I’d like to challenge the NAB and RAB to use some of their money and influence to build a campaign, a national campaign but created by sharing hundreds of local stories of all that local stations do for their communities.

It should be compelling. It must be professionally produced so it compares favorably to the best national spots we see and hear. And it must be on-going.

The ancillary benefit is that it will make all of us who work in Radio more proud of what we do. It will remind us of our better selves and be a positive counter-point to the persistent critics who claim Radio is dead.

If we don’t do it, who will?