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By Fred Jacobs

Many of us were taught about the importance of consistency when we got that first radio station gig. That’s how you won in the diary – giving them exactly what they expect day in and day out.  And many have come to believe that’s the secret of success in PPM, too.

I beg to differ.

Yes, consumers need to have a clear expectation about who you are, what you do, and what you stand for.  This has become a core part of our thinking as a consultancy, inspired by thinker Simon Sinek who wrote the book, Start With Why.

It is about being consistent but also keeping it interesting and fresh.  Too many stations simply do not recognize the world around them and end up sounding like… Pandora.  In our recently released Techsurvey 8, we discovered that the human touch – connectivity – leads the way when it comes down to why consumers listen less to Pandora.

So why don’t more stations recognize the need to keep it current and fresh?

Even “utilities” have gotten the message.  When you wake up every morning and turn on the light, you don’t stop for a moment to praise this miracle.  It’s so consistent and expected that you take it for granted.

That’s where Google found themselves.  Famous for their opening page that is all about simplicity, they reasoned that while clean, it was also dull.  After all, the term “search enginge” sounds like something mechanical and grey.

And so they got “current” and started reminding us about their sense of history and humor with their Google Doodle concept.  You can see the entire collection at Google Doodles, but the one that caught my eye the other morning celebrated the 132nd anniversary of the birth of Gideon Sundback.

Who’s Gideon Sundback?  He’s the inventor of the modern zipper:

And if you grabbed the zipper and went south, Google took you to a series of links about Sundbach.

Here’s the Doodle for Earth Day 2012, another tasteful reminder that the Google team is aware, connected, and using their front page to keep you tuned in to the world:

And then one of my favorites, a tribute to John Lennon on what would have been his 70th birthday, complete with an artful rendition of “Imagine.”

For a once-bland, plain brown wrapper search site, Google has found a way to be bright, engaged, buzzworthy, and even warm – even if that means blowing up their logo every few days.

Radio stations can still be tight, consistent, and dependable.  But to stay ahead of the pure play competition that it now faces, being connected, current, and fresh are all part of what makes a difference.  Consistency is wonderful but doing the unexpected is what gets people buzzing.

That’s what consumers want from radio.  Now we have to just give it to them.

Fred Jacobs

About Fred Jacobs

Fred Jacobs, created the Classic Rock format, and has been a leading force in Alternative and Mainstream Rock. Currently, Jacobs Media services are used by nearly every major broadcasting company, including CBS, Entercom, Emmis, Cox, Greater Media, Citadel, Journal, and others. Jacobs Media has also provided consulting services to The Corporation For Public Broadcasting, National Public Radio, and public radio stations around the country.