For decades, music radio was known for creating on-air events so big that TV stations would send over reporters to talk to the DJs about what was going on and reflect on the subject matter.
A sad event this month should have triggered on-air storytelling, listener interaction and buzz, but after many attempts to locate a station capable of producing the goods, I gave up.
The day legendary Beatles producer George Martin died, I turned to classic rock radio to hear remembrances, music and comments from fans. I wanted to connect with others who must be feeling the loss that I was experiencing. I wanted to hear the songs. I wanted to remember the times.
I tried my local stations and heard the usual jukeboxes. Over the next hours, I streamed stations online without hearing a word about Sir George.
In desperation, I tuned to NPR, where I finally got a 2-minute news story with one sloppily cut-in piece of a Beatles song.
I couldn’t believe it. The man who pioneered multi-track recording as an art form — and in doing so gave radio a much richer sound — was gone. And wherever I checked to try to find a connection, something a fan could relate to, I got nothin’.
Thinking that maybe the next day I might locate someone telling stories about George Martin, The Beatles and the many other acts George worked with, I tuned in again, only to hear more of the same day-to-day programming.
So much content to mine, but no miners busy at work.
“Joy Week” on the Bobby Bones Show brings positivity, unique live performances from stars and fan interaction.DO-IT-MYSELF
On-air events may not be extinct but they are no longer a regular affair. Maybe too few stations have the talent who are capable of telling stories and opening up their airwaves to listeners to emote about the topic at hand.
The station that used to be the town square where people would actively gather is now asleep on the dial, a music machine with quick one-liners and nothing special.
I actually got depressed about this state of affairs for a day. So I curated my own George Martin-produced playlist on my iPhone, found old interviews and remembered that special man and the way he changed the music world.
The next day, still feeling down about radio, I stuck to my morning routine of spinning through the dial, first on my car radio and then on my connected iPhone.
Fortunately, I landed on “Joy Week,” and after just a few minutes, I had a smile on my face.
A few talents in our business really know how to take advantage of the magic of radio. The talent in this case was “Bobby Bones” and his friends, syndicated by iHeartMedia’s Premiere Networks.
They — and most likely an astute program director or producer — had created just the type of on-air event I was seeking. It had nothing to do with Sir George, but it had everything to do with creating a show that’s special because of its story-telling, unique music, live callers and break from the ordinary.
Within 10 minutes, I knew that “Joy Week” had been created for me because the usual positivity in my life was missing. Bobby convinced me that we should all be thankful for the friends and family we have — and sealed the deal by having a bunch of country’s biggest stars play live songs, mainly favorite cover versions rarely heard until that very moment. He took calls from fans who talked about positive things in their lives and even had a few of these listeners ask the stars questions. He told his own positive stories of why he and his cast were joyful.
In short, Bobby Bones and his team produced a real live radio show — for five days in a row — that made me use the same part of my brain that was tickled for so many years by the production skills of George Martin. And that’s positivity, through and through.
The author is president of Lapidus Media. Contact him at [email protected].