By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Is that ink blot a butterfly? Or Satan? Some psychologists use the Rorschach Test to analyze personality characteristics and emotional function, especially when patients are reluctant or unable to describe their thinking process openly.
We see what we want to see
And we hear what we want to hear, as talk radio assures those dug-in that “It’s not YOU, it’s THEM!” And “they” don’t simply view things differently, they’re wrong. And bad people. Grrr…
Beyond grievance and resentment over man-made issues we contrive, we also quibble over super-human phenomena, undaunted by data on threats as immense as COVID and climate change. Affirmation trumps information that challenges predispositions, the opposite of curiosity.
“Absolute proof” from the My Pillow guy was to deliver a nine-vote Trump reinstatement on August 13, even though the Supreme Court was in three-month summer recess. That having fizzled, he now says it’ll happen on Thanksgiving, when justices are home carving the bird.
Cable and radio hosts double-down for the sake of doubling-down
Turn-it-up-to 11 to cut-through the clutter.
Consumers so clearly favor interactive media, and talk is SO advantaged over other formats because it is two-way radio. Yet there’s more monologue than dialogue. Rather than listening, we talk. It’s easier to argue than assess.
Rather than inviting consumers’ ingenuity to fix what’s-broken, the day after day drumbeat is that today is worse than yesterday and tomorrow will be worse than today. Our grandchildren are screwed. Stop the tape. If you’re reading this you are too young to remember when we were the as-yet-unborn grandchildren doomed by then-dire predictions. Inflation happens; as does life-enhancing, life-extending technology.
Is The Sorehead Show still a business?
It’s still making money for me, for now. And a businesslike approach will produce better results than zealotry, of either political stripe. Remember Air America? You can’t save the world, but you can save the radio station.
- ICYMI: Recently here, I outlined specific sales tactics for garden-variety conservative radio.
- And fundamentally, programming remains the process of converting cume to quarter hour (existing cume, since promotion budgets got clobbered; and given talk format demographics). One problem…
Facebook stokes angst more-efficiently than talk radio
Its algorithm extends use by delivering more-of-the-same. But sounding SO like-yesterday harms radio time spent listening.
When the daily downer rundown ticks-off familiar angry catch-phrases, we’re too instant-gratification. The #HopeForTheWorst like-minded can quickly check-in and be reassured that life has gone-to-hell in fewer minutes than ratings methodology rewards. And fewer of advertisers’ spots get heard.
“Build Me Up Buttercup”
Today’s twentysomethings can sing the 1969 hit. I witnessed it at my niece’s wedding a year ago this week and at a wedding reception this past weekend. Many of the titles the kickass band played Saturday night charted before many singing in unison on a crowded dance floor were born.
If only broadcast radio hadn’t relinquished to SiriusXM and streams the immense emotional equity this music holds. One reason I look forward to the perennial all-Christmas music format that should begin any minute now: FM plays the “Little Saint Nick,” apparently the only Beach Boys song still worthy.
Make room for the possibility that people are willing to be happy, especially after all we’ve been through lately. When Justin Trudeau explains COVID protocols as “how we’re going to finish the job,” he gives Canadians something to look forward to. Satan: Beware the butterfly.
Holland Cooke is the author of the acclaimed E-book “Multiply Your Podcast Subscribers, Without Buying Clicks,” which he humbly describes as “gripping…a riveting page-turner,” available from Talkers books (click the banner on this page). He is a consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. And HC hosts “The Big Picture” TV show Friday nights at 7ET on RT America. Follow him on Twitter @HollandCooke