Monday, March 26, 2007

Step Away From The Keyboard

You probably know something of the history Lee Abrams' impact on Rock radio with his development of the AOR/Superstars format in the 70s and 80s. Today he's at XM leading their product develpment and still dispenses some useful insights on his blog .

One of Lee's most impactful themes was 'the balance of art and science.' Lee used this theme a number of times addressing the programmers of the 70s and 80s and it still rings true today. Great radio stations are not completely built on the science of crunching numbers, analyzing research, and working behind the computer screen. They are built by the creativity of the whole team. The air staff's work behind the mic, the imaging between the songs, the promotions in the streets, and having a creative music mix.

While the research data, the music scheduling software, and digital studios are useful tools. The research allows us to hear the audience's reaction and opinions and the music software and digital studios do help us consistantly keep the product on the air they are not content. Yet we often see PDs working dilgently at their screens breaking down web metrics, tweaking the music log, fine tuning the station to the smallest details - instead of spending time focusing on the ART side of the product.

Radio programming is a 'team sport.' It takes the creative resources of everyone on your staff and to use those creative resources you have to put on your coaching hat. Great winning coaches have great skills with the 'Xs and Os' but they also know how to motivate the talent on the field. While the plan may gain from spending time behind the keyboard the real execution comes from leading the staff. Taking the time to brainstorm, motivate, and coach the airstaff, imaging team and promotion folks is where you can make a real impact on the product. Great stations do not come from the computer screen they happen on the air.

1 comment:

Dan Kelley said...


Excellent piece!

There was a point in my career where my head was firmly planted in the mechanics of programming until the right mentor came along and changed my thought process in building a product both on and off air.

Listening to a lot of stations these days in both large and small markets, I do hear a lot of mechanically perfect stations that lack the art.

The ones that get it are wonderful.