More content, faster

Staff Writer

Guest Contributor, Michael Lee, was the co-founder of Brown Bag Productions, winner of the Silver Screen Award, the Billboard Radio Award and seven Telly awards and a worldwide audience of two billion people. 

He is now the President of HD/FX, which produces DOWNLOAD HD™, a content service with more than two million pieces of audio and written material and 300 US radio clients.

Today he writes about content…

By Michael R. Lee, Ph.D.

We live in a world of content.  We often don’t understand it, can’t define it and have great difficulty controlling it.  What we do know is that it is very important, perhaps the most critical factor in determining success or failure.

At this point in radio’s history, it is a safe bet to say that we have failed the content test.  Removing the music played, the news stories read, the commercials, imaging, contests and promos aired, what is the content?  The answer is the bits offered by air personalities.

When air personalities talk about celebrity gossip or a wacky news story or a piece of trivia, they must give it context.  Thus, there is a process of 1) setting it up, 2) delivering the information itself, 3) making comments about it and 4) providing some type of reasonably smooth exit.  The gist of the bit is usually under eight seconds.  The length of time it takes to deliver this information is typically 45 seconds or more.

In short, air personalities are a decidedly inefficient system for imparting information.  That doesn't mean they are no longer viable, just that they are not the delivery system of choice for information 24/7.  Great morning shows, though few and far between, can be worth their weight in gold.  The other 97% of radio's content time is often squandered by adhering to the air personality paradigm. 

Shock alert.  It's not 1962 anymore.  Change is inevitable.  And there is a way to give context to content and deliver it in short bursts that are informative and entertaining, repeatable and profitable.  Even crazier, it would vastly reduce unproductive air personality monologues.

Enter 2012.  Listeners listen faster.  They value their time more and they have more alternatives to radio than ever before.  Air personality content is too slow.  Produced content is the wave of the future.  Immediate context.  Speed, variety, super-quick commercial mentions embedded.  Timely, ridiculous control and flexibility.  Full ability to localize.  Pop it between songs and never lose pace.  Make it unpredictable or something that feels like it's been there for years.

It works in every format, every day part, all markets.  This is radio's sea change.  And the grid, the tools and the need are already here.  Content without chaos.  Listener friendly, revenue producing, 20 years overdue.  Content with context.  Radio is back in the game without blowing up the system.

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