We Are Ships

Shaping content in a PPM world: Part 1

Many programmers and managers are reacting to PPM results in a logical way: They’re shutting up the talent, and trying to get back to music as quickly as possible.


Some of you, who know me, will be surprised that I find this move logical, acceptable. After all, my career has been about content, about finding ways to connect on an emotional level, about being more than a music box with ever-lengthening commercial interruptions.

Look, let’s be honest. Most of the “talent” I hear on radio stations in the US, Europe and Asia aren’t talented enough to entertain their own families 4 times an hour, much less millions of listeners.

When you turn your station over to marginally talented jocks and card readers, I don’t blame you for shutting them up. But that’s not a real solution to your ratings problem.

That’s part of Radio’s issue right now, especially with Millenials, who have never heard really great air talent and how they enhance the joy of listening to a great radio station.

Everything I say in today’s piece, and tomorrow’s, is designed for truly talented people so the first thing you need to do is make a commitment to finding them.

If you’re in a company that believes they can survive using marginally entertaining, voice-tracked people just grateful to be on the radio, you have a decision to make.

Budgets are budgets, but hiring people on the cheap is like scrimping on dental care. You may save a couple of hundred dollars a year, only to end up losing all your teeth.

When I’m in your market, listening to your station, I judge you on what I hear, not on what your budgets are. And so does everyone else, every other potential employer and talent scout.

I know good jobs are scarce, but you make your reputation by each break on your station every day, so if your company won’t fund excellence, I think you’ve got only one choice…

Move on.

Life’s too short to settle.

As John Shedd says, “Ships are safe in harbors, but that’s not where ships were meant to be.”


I know how busy we all are, so I will continue this piece tomorrow and get into the meat of finding and delivering content that is awe-inspiring.

If you subscribe to this blog by email or RSS, you’ll get it automatically. If not, make a note to come back tomorrow. I think you’ll find it worth another couple of minutes, especially if you want to program or work at something better — more memorable, certainly — than a music box.

Tomorrow’s topic is “Inspiring Awe.”

If you can do that, your PPM worries are over.