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Tag Archives: Marshall McLuhan

Separating The Great From The Ordinary

Two questions that are often asked of me by people in radio.

What is missing form today’s radio?

And why is Rush Limbaugh so popular?

I heard the second of these asked of a station General Manager recently.  He said because Limbaugh knows how to entertain.

He’s right.

Rush knows how to use radio.  It is the medium he understands best and has the talent to use well.  Remember he tried TV and it didn’t work.

But on radio Limbaugh controls the game.  He’s a great story teller and most of all he knows how to connect with his audience on an emotional level.

That brings us back to the first question.  It’s the lack of connection with the audience on an emotional level that is missing from radio.

Think of the really great talents.   They are all able to connect. They engage the audience and that separates them from the typical ‘drive by’ DJ.

Larry Lujack, Bruce Morrow, and Howard Stern have that ability to connect.  They do it differently than Rush but  they make you have an emotional reaction.

Jean Shepherd was a master at this.  He could hold you in the palm of his hand, taking the listener up and down the twisted streets in his mind only to finish with a bang at the end of his story, which concluded the show.

Shepherd talked up to the very last note of his theme music.  He used the brilliant imagery of a novelist to paint the picture in your mind and take hold of your emotions.  He was masterful.

Rush takes the listener up to a break and holds them with a powerful tease.  He ebbs and flows in pace and emotion and brings you in whether you like what he says or not.

This doesn’t happen on Television because little is left to the imagination.

Great radio performers team with your mind and emotions to make you do part of the work.

Marshall McLuhan wrote about in his ‘Hot and Cold’ theory of communication.  Radio when used well is hot.  TV is cold because it doesn’t require your mind or emotions to engage.

Great radio performers paint pictures.  They tell stories.  They grab you and don’t let go.

Limbaugh learned much of his technique by talking up intros to teeny bopper songs in McKeesport, Pa.  He’s taken that lesson and used it differently to get even stronger impact.

Whether you love him or hate him you have a reaction to him.

That  is what separates great talent from the ordinary.

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2009 in Radio programming, Uncategorized

 

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McLuhan Revisited In The Narrowcast World

Change is the most exciting part of media today.

A couple of years ago media was separated by delivery method.  You had radio, television, newspaper and magazines.  Today on the internet they all converge into well…media.

Newspapers are still hung up on delivery of a printed product and trying to increase dieing circulation.

Television is caught in a world where an outdated network concept is beginning to collapse.  The end of networks could bring the end of local over-air TV.

And in radio the ratings service is causing stations to broaden their approach at the very time the audience is demanding something more personal.

Big media companies must change how they view these franchises.

Radio stations, television stations, newspapers and the internet are simply pipeline.  A delivery method.

This pipe is no different from what transports crude oil, natural gas or water.

All that matters is the content running through the pipeline.  Not the pipe itself.

This should be an ‘ah’ moment for big media.  Instead they focus on the pipeline and fixing unfixable problems like newspaper circulation.

Newspapers must now think like radio or television stations by using video and audio programming to supplement their written content.

Television needs audio and radio needs video.

It is likely there will be no actual TV station or radio stations in the future. These will be replaced by a content portal  on the Web  using the best of all media to communicate.

Most exciting is the ability to narrow the focus and provide very specific content to highly passionate audiences.  The day of one size fits all is over.

Audiences can be small locally yet huge on a world wide scale.

The New York Times should be a world wide brand for news content long after the last paper is printed.  But they have to stop thinking like a newspaper.

These information portals will offer multiple streams of rich content.  They’ll do it on the consumer’s schedule not that of some network.

It is a narrowcaster’s world.  We’re seeing the dawn of ultimate customer focus.

Big media take notice while those established brands still matter.

Marshall McLuhan’s theory no longer applies.

The medium is no longer the message.  It is simply a method of transportation.

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

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