Occupy Radio

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(By Fred Jacobs)

The protests that started on Wall Street and are now making their way around the countryare rooted in controversy.  While on the road this past week, I lurked in on several conversations that ranged from ridicule to sympathy about the people camped out in markets throughout the U.S.

In reading more deeply into this movement, there appears to be a wide variety of issues driving it – enormous student loans, the recession that won’t end, the housing market “bubble,” the jobs problem, Congress and the political parties in Wall Street’s pocket, health care, etc.

The one common thread to all of this is anger.  Whether they are taking part in these protests, pissed off about them, or sitting on the sidelines, it is clear that there are lots of angry people.

So what does this have to do with radio or a blog about media?

My sense here is that many radio stations can learn from what’s been happening these past few years, perhaps culminating in the “Occupy” protests.

If I were programming a station right now, I would steer away from riling up the audience.  If it’s a talk station, I would tone down the conversation.  If it’s a sports station, I would find ways to be more supportive of the hometown teams.  And if it’s a music station, I would be looking for energy, tempo, and escape.

That’s not to say that “Dust In The Wind” and songs like it don’t belong on the radio right now.  But I would be looking for titles like “Celebration” and “You Shook Me” – and finding ways to play them more often.

Recently, Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, initiated a noble campaign that is designed to help get money to small business in the hope that more jobs will be created.  His CDFIs – or Community Development Financial Institutions – are a novel idea at a time when creative solutions and good will appear to be in short supply.

If your morning show or station or even your broadcast company has a big idea and the will to pull it off, more power to you.

But if saving the world is not in your strategic plan right now, then toning down the anger and turning up the positives, the good times, and making people feel better – even for a few minutes – is something special that radio does very, very well.

Radio can be that antidote to anger.  In the world today, that may be a more powerful asset than you think.

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.