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CLB is for Beginners, Not Masters

RJs must surprise audiences with innovative content, personality and style, not with fixed CLBs

JAIPUR, India — I remember very well the first time I was introduced to this suspicious sounding abbreviation — CLB (Content Link Break Up).

My heart skipped a beat when I heard from my regional programming head that I needed to prepare CLBs for all my shows and would be required to get his approval before putting them on air. I stayed awake all night just to figure out how I was going to prepare this and in the morning finally gave in by asking him to send me a sample, which he did on my third reminder.

At last I found his email and its attachment shining in my inbox. With all my fake conviction and confidence I opened it, and to my surprise, I discovered a simple word document, which indicated what to say on air, per link, per hour. When I saw this my nervousness disappeared, and I slowly realized, regretfully, that this would be the basis on which I would need to prepare all my shows. I did, eventually, begin to do this.

This particular incident taught me a lesson, which all senior programmers need to learn and understand. It’s like giving an excellent painter a canvas with dotted lines so that he or she can merely fill in the dots.

When I got posted to a non-metro station (metro referring to the four main business hubs in India: Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Delhi) as a programming head in 2009, I had my first meeting with all my radio jockeys. I understood that they all were quite focused toward CLBs from the day they joined the station. That means that if a radio jockey has been doing a morning show for the past two years and if his or her CLB has never undergone any change, then the person is delivering basically the same type of content and contests over and over again — suicide for any radio station. Radio programming runs on two wheels: “innovation and freedom.” Pull either and your cart will kiss the floor.

I understand that the idea of CLB came into action to provide a basic guideline to beginners and to give shape to the program, as well as to develop the listener’s taste. However, we are killing the talent of every RJ who follows his or her show’s CLB criteria, just because the boss told them to do so.

Where’s the scope of innovation and creativity if we are asking an artist to perform in a fixed parameter or boundary? Stations should instead — after a few months of initial training — drop the CLB constraints and set a backdrop, which encourages RJs to be free to create their own, unique content everyday and to experiment with new ideas. RJs must amuse, surprise their audiences with innovative content, personality and style, not with fixed CLBs.

Many of the novelties we see in the world are created by people on a whim and out of the box, and the subject of CLBs is no exception. More properly put, CLBs are for starters, not for masters.

Lokesh Gulyani, based in Jaipur, India, is a radio programming consultant and ex-programming director. Contact him via email at: [email protected]