It’s not unusual for little boys and girls to ask the question “Why?” They ask it a lot.
Why? Because they want to learn, to know why things have to be that way.
But what happens to the person who is asked the why question?
They are forced to think about it, sometimes even reassess the answer they knew and wonder if it was really the right answer or merely a convention. In other words, is the reason simply because, it’s the way something has always been done?
It causes one to consider that maybe things didn’t really need to be done that way, and could be done differently.
While why questions open our minds to new thoughts and opportunities, “what if” questions are like a fork in the road. They can take us in new directions.
For example, “What if radio stations only aired a single commercial in a break?” Or, “What if all radio commercials were delivered live by the radio personality?”
Edison Research revealed at this year’s Radio Show, that people would change radio stations or stop listening all together due to basically one of three reasons: 1) forced change, 2) engagement and 3) commercials.
Forced change was defined by a loss of signal or a bad signal. Engagement was described as boredom, didn’t like the song, the personality or subject matter. And I think everyone understands the tune-out factor of commercials to radio listeners.
Why do commercials have to be a listener tune out? What if commercials caused radio listeners to lean into their speakers and pay close attention?
My first personal experience with doing just that was when I listened to Paul Harvey News & Comment and he said, “Page Two.”
Paul Harvey did his sponsor’s commercials live. He did them with passion and enthusiasm. The result was people listened, and even more importantly, they bought the products and services he told them about.
I’ve noticed that podcasters usually have a single commercial in their program and is usually delivered by the host of the podcast. What if that’s the reason podcast commercials deliver such powerful results and more advertisers are considering using podcasts as part of their advertising program.
Same, but Different
In my radio management career, I had the opportunity to live and work in different parts of the country with some fabulous radio professionals. The radio business is an identical business everywhere in America, but back in the days before consolidation and the concept of “Best Practices,” radio people tended to innovate the creative process in completely different ways. It’s one of the reasons many, my age, loved to DX AM radio signals after sunset.
I believe some of the best innovators for setting the course for radio in 2020 are working for you right at this very moment. They aren’t necessarily the “A players” or even the most focused ones, but they are the ones that are asking “Why & What If” and are continually looking for new problems to solve.
If you create a culture within your radio station that encourages that kind of inquiry, a culture that continually asks “why” do we always do things this way and “what if” we did things differently, radio for the 21st Century will begin to be born.
If you don’t, your business is ripe for disruption by another media innovator.