The Point Is


You can be the only station in your town, perhaps in your country, playing Chinese Opera music.

Talk about differentiation!

But the point of being different is not just being different.

The point is to be so much better that listeners notice and talk about you, that they love you. Even in China, I don’t think Chinese Opera would be ranked #1 with most listeners.

The hard part today is there are so many people working hard to make you predictable. Predictability is part of their plan, because they’ve got a number they need to hit and they don’t want wild swings, up or down.

You can definitely be successful being average, if success means continued employment, a long career. Lots of people working in our business today are coached to be as average as possible. The less you stand out, the smaller the target on your back. Play the music. Read the liners. Talk less…

But that’s not the way Howard Stern works. That’s not the way Rush Limbaugh works. That’s not the way Richard Branson or Jean-Paul BAUDECROUX work. That’s not the way some of the best radio stations in the world work.

Don’t expect to hear about those stations in the trades. Don’t expect them to be nominated for industry awards. Our business doesn’t like rewarding mavericks, because they’re dangerous: they cost more.

I can’t tell you how to run your station. I understand jobs are scarce. I understand why you’re trying to hang on.

But my heart belongs to those programmers who dare to be different, who don’t do what every other station in their format is doing, who aren’t afraid to make mistakes, who aren’t batting for average, but swinging for the fences; those who aren’t satisfied sitting on top of their little hill when Everest is out there waiting to be climbed.

Listeners’ hearts belong to them too. These programmers win — dominate — everywhere they compete.

Thank God we still have some.