Lori Kesinger, administrative assistant for International Association of Audio Information Services and Outreach Coordinator at the Audio-Reader Network in Kansas is the author of this piece with assistance from Stuart Holland, past president of IAAIS and manager of Minnesota Radio Talking Book Network. IAAIS commentaries are featured regularly at www.radioworld.com.
Why does everyone simultaneously fear and crave change? No one likes change, we are creatures of habit. Yet every January 1 we plan change with resolutions and diets and staff retreats and visioning statements.
I have been reading documents and correspondence from the early days of radio reading, the predecessors of IAAIS — ARRS (Association of Radio Reading Services) and NARRS (National Association of Radio Reading Services) and it struck me, even in the early days (mid to late ’70s), how much resistance there was to change. Much of the correspondence was about doing things the “right” way. Using the “right” delivery method or the “right” format for programming. I understand this to some extent. In a new industry, those already “doing” are asked for expert advice from those who want to get started. What struck me was how much of the correspondence seemed final: “you MUST do it this way”. I am sure this is not unique to the Audio Information world.
The reality, for all of us involved in access to information, is we must evolve/change in order to continue to remain relevant to our audience. Monthly or weekly newspapers evolved into daily papers as the demands of the audience evolved. Nightly News at 6 and 10 gave way to 24-hour news channels. Why? Because we all wanted more to do? Because there was money floating around to expand our services and hire new staff? Because of technology? Yes and no. I tend to believe it is because all of us, as professionals, want to improve our product and better serve our audience. Finding ways to deliver content faster, more concisely, cost effectively, yet with quality and integrity.
Often, the changes that happen to our industries are not in our control. Public tastes change, new technologies are developed. Materials we depend on disappear. It is the responsibility of those of us offering services to the public to keep in mind our goals and objectives and be less bound to our own expectations of how those services are going to happen and what they will look like. None of us who started in our industry during the reel-to-reel and the ticker-tape news era could have foreseen what we have to work with today. It has changed greatly and it will continue to change. We can either live in the past or we can move forward with what changes are brought about, some not of our own choosing.
As we head into 2017 I invite all of you, when presented with a new idea, a different way of doing things; take a deep breath, ponder the idea for a day or two, before firing back that memo, email or conversation saying “this can’t be done because……”. You never know, someday someone may look back at that memo and find a lost opportunity to innovate. Instead of being the one who said “NO” you could be remembered as a pioneer of your industry.