Charlie Cook On Air: Radio Can Help

CCook-onair-sm11Can’t we all be friends? As much as record and radio people talk each week about music, their respective families and whatever is going on out in the real world, there still seems like a fence that separates our interests.

I have often said I would have a hard time being a record promo person putting up with radio folks who promise and fail to deliver. Who ask for “stuff” in a non-quid pro quo world and who have favor slots for what always seems like the “other guy.” I know that being on the radio side has its challenges as there is only so much room on the radio and we are often made to feel like we’re either ingrates or idiots for not “hearing” a record that is being pitched that particular week. I also know as a radio programmer I get frustrated when I do hear a song, take a chance on it early and then have to wait 10-12 weeks before the label’s marketing plan for it and other songs on the chart gets its turn. I’m not sure who to blame.

Then there is the Music First deal. I love their positioning statement. “We are artists, musicians, civil rights leaders, organizations and community leaders who believe in fair pay for our work.” Apparently when Congress was not moved by just the singers, a more wide range of constituents was necessary to continue this push toward finding a new source of paying for past errors in judgment. Both in picking acts who failed to sell and in not seeing the trend away from physical copies of music early enough.

That’s actually for another time. I want to play nice today. Yet another study finds radio is the artist’s best friend. Maybe not some of the older performers who were shorted, not by radio airplay, but by their employers and partners. But today’s artists and those still learning a C chord in their bedrooms should realize radio is a great friend. I did an air shift Monday (April 22) on WKKW.  I am not a disc jockey any more. Well I guess I actually am. I love being on the air. I haven’t done a daily air shift since before iTunes took over the landscape. When there is an opening, I get to jump in when I want to. I wanted to on Monday.

I love Country Music. I love the performers and have been blessed to meet some of them and have conversations with them. I know this is not a big deal to many of you reading this, but because I have had access to some of the performers and because I care about their success, I talk about their accomplishments, their tours, their CDs and how many of them give back to the communities on the air.

I talked about Darius Rucker holding a benefit concert for St. Jude in June, and Zac Brown Band coming to Pittsburgh in July and playing Stagecoach this weekend in Indio, Calif. I talked about Thompson Square’s new CD and how Pioneer is a great CD for the The Band Perry. I talked about how their concert, outside of Boston, went off Friday night despite the tragedy 30 miles away and how the kids stepped up for the fans.

A recent study of over 1,000 people from the NPD group found 54 percent of them said radio announcements would spur them to buy more music. I want my radio stations to lead the way with information about the artists and how much the relationship between country radio, country artists and the fans is paramount to all of us. Less than one in five listeners look to online recommendations and less than that number to Facebook for new music choices.

I strongly believe we have to talk about the music and the artists and make them come to life. The hard core fans will search out this information but the casual listener needs to have someone show them the way. Radio is the way. I hope programmers step up and allow their disc jockeys to tell the listener about the music. I did it and I never stopped the music once where the clock didn’t call for it because of commercials.

The No. 1 CD of the week should not debut with 100,000 sales. We have to help get it back to 300,000 or 400,000 sales. Radio can help.

(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of MusicRow.)



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