I spent almost 49 years in radio and most of the time I loved it, I loved the business, the people and I loved our listeners.
I've listened to the radio business slide into mediocrity, sure it still has listeners, plenty of them. There are fewer every year and the entry level listener, the kids, the teens aren't listening anymore, at all. Why should they, there is nothing there for them.
I read the broadcast media, blogs. What I read is excuses, people looking for "one neat trick" or an "amazing hack" to turn things around. What I read most often is from people in a defensive posture, muttering "but, but, but..."
I spent (wasted) a couple of hours last week listening to WLTW in New York, it's the number one rated station, it was terrible. The guy on the air is required to open the mic about 4 times an hour and he couldn't even sound like he was interested. It was hotter than the hubs of hell in New York last week and he never mentioned it. The only New York thing he talked about was a swarm of bees around a hot dog cart...he read it off the internet. I know he did, I checked. I could go on, but I won't.
Not only is afternoon drive terrible, the entire station is, I listened around the other dayparts the next day. WLTW is being threatened by classic hits WCBS FM, I noticed WLTW is now playing one LOUD song an hour, think that'll work on an AC? Maybe that's the "one neat trick"? Now the defense of WLTW by radio guys, "gee that's not fair, you only listened for a couple of hours." You know what? That's all you get, if somebody tunes you in for the first time and the station sounds bad like WLTW, That's the only chance you get with them, no excuses.
When I was a young Program Director in a Top Ten Market, I'd drive to the airport and pick up the Executive VP of the company, He'd get in my car and turn on the station, if the first break he heard was bad, I knew I'd be getting my ass handed to me for the next few days, morning, noon and night. Was he fair? Yes. He made me a better PD, a lot better. Our National PD, a close friend of mine, rode to work with the guy every day in the company's home market, He hated the ride,, they'd listen to a break on the AM and then the FM, then discuss, 5 days a week. Did it make him a better group PD, sure did.
Our station was new, an FM, a CHR FM. We built it backwards. We hired the best talent for 6-10pm and 10 to 2AM. Why? We were going for teens in the beginning and that's when they were available, thousands of them. The first goal was to beat our competitor in teens, strip them away and knock their numbers down. When that happened we added better talent to the rest of the day, PMD, then Midday and finally mornings. Our demos expanded, we won 18-34 and got into 3rd place 25-54. In 6 books we won in a very tough marketplace I doubled my income through rating bonuses. One of my jocks did some research a few years ago and discovered we were the 6th biggest FM in the US at the time and the only one not in the top 3 markets
I bought my first house during this time period. I'd bought a new house, I saved money by painting it and putting the yard myself. I decided to paint the house during my vacation. I listened to the station all day, everyday from dawn to dark. I listened standing on the painting scaffold, while mixing paint and I listened while having a cold beer on my deck. Know what I found out? I found out there were a lot of things I could do to make the station better, to make it grow. When I went back to work I started to fix things. I started to sit down with the airstaff after their shifts daily. I'd even come in at night to talk to them. I never saw my wife and kids for months. The station got better because the talent got better by working hard and getting individual attention. I couldn't always keep them, but I had a pipeline of contacts and could always replace them with someone as good, better or somebody with great potential. I lost a guy to LA, found another great one in San Diego. Lost another to Philly and replaced him with a great jock from Miami and so on.
So is it fair to judge a station by listening to one break or for "only a few hours", hell yes it is. The audience will give you one shot, you better be ready and make it count.
Thanks for listening and now get back in your defensive crouch and keep looking for that "one neat trick".
BTW, take a look at your websites, they suck.