One of the most common comments I get DAILY is people asking me what single was played at a station at a certain time in various states. I was wondering why I keep getting this question and on a recent cross country trip I got the answer. Usually when I travel, if I’m driving, I don’t listen to the radio because I don’t want to hear the same brain dead boring syndicated shit in every city, so I pop in a disk with a ton of mp3 songs on it or I listen to satellite radio. This particular day I tuned into an urban during a midday shift with a male jock. He literally played 6 songs in a row and did not announce one of the songs. He didn’t even do a break during those 6 records. This is a station, in my opinion that is VERY poorly programmed. No, it’s not the announcer’s job to sell records as one PD put it to me but it IS the jocks job to sell the product which is the station and if the station plays music then he needs to make that a part of his sale. This jock wasn’t even selling the station image. This is unacceptable or at least it should be if the programmer is paying attention.
A record company exec told me, “if urban radio would just announce the song, we can do the rest, we’ll market it etc, but if the listener does not know who just played that could translate into sales and research flaws.” I’m not so sure about research flaws as much as sales but I know that what the labels are saying is true because I have gotten people to email me who play the songs on the ads we run and they always say the same thing. “I heard that on the radio for the longest time and I didn’t know who that was.” I have constantly expressed my dismay over the extreme lack of creativity on many urban stations today, MOSTLY because of syndication which makes many urbans the cookie cutter and follow the leader (whoever that is) formats. In order to BE the leader we have to…. LEAD. Some programmers argue, “We have SO much to do on the air and little time to do it that we don’t announce titles enough.. ” We have to keep in mind, unless a listener is at a computer and the jock is being interactive and can answer an IM or an email quickly, calling a request line is a futile effort at best as it’s almost always busy and receptionists at stations today can’t answer “who was that last record” like they used to because they have been given so much more responsibility in today’s radio arena. Give people that information. Many urban stations have websites that SUCK and they need a boost. Why not put an interactive (buy this at iTunes) playlist on the site, an intern can do that. Just an idea. I can’t help but to think that we don’t want to pay artists for exposing their music but how much exposure are they getting if listeners don’t know who it is?