Radio Lessons #81 – Horseshoe Crabs

Horseshoe Crabs are creatures of habit.

And ‘creature’ is the perfect descriptor for these prehistoric critters, given they are actually older than dinosaurs – their descendants date back more than 45 million years.

For all that time, the Horseshoe Crab has walked (sideways) up the beach at high tide and headed back to the water as the waters recede. Not widely known to be Rolex fans, these crabs have amazing, internal chemical timepieces that work with exquisite accuracy, guiding them up and down the beach like clockwork.

In fact, if you picked up one of these crabs, flew it across the world and put it in a cage; something amazing happens. It will scramble up the cage floor as the tide rises on its home shores and it will skitter down the cage again as the waters are receding thousands of miles away. Day and night; for weeks or months after leaving that ocean.

We are all Horseshoe Crabs in many ways. We tend to wake up at the same time each day (usually to the brain-piercing sound of an iPhone alarm), we mostly have a fairly regimented morning routine, a similar commute each day, lunch at the same time, weekly meetings that are locked into calendars, then leave work at approximately the same time so the ‘get home from work’ cycle can begin before collapsing into bed at roughly the same time each night to ignore your partner so you can play with your phone before sleep.

As content creators, the fine line we must tread is beating the monotony of regularity with compelling entertainment wrapped up in a predictable framework that’s easy to consume. Benchmarks work.

It’s tempting to run shows as fluidly as possible, keep things fresh, mix it up; but that creativity often forces our Horseshoe Crab listeners to work harder for the payoff than shaping a great ‘today’ moment within a game or bit they understand.

We should not over-benchmark; rather a reliable highpoint of 1-3 times an hour creates a spine for a show giving it strength and reliability. Great brands drive their fans’ day – benchmarks are the signposts on that highway of fun.

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