Most people that make a living speaking on the radio understand that fine line you dare not cross. It’s the line between opening your big mouth, pissing off a client, and costing the radio station an account. It’s that very delicate, fine line between freedom of speech, and being stupid.
I’ve been witness to countless episodes of the radio personality upsetting a client, putting advertising revenue in peril. Happens all the time. Client hears something they don’t like on the radio, (it could even be a song) they call the station manager and threaten to pull their advertising money. The ploy generally works. I’ve sat on both sides of the desk..as a program director and as a general manager. I always considered myself a product guy..I’m certainly not a sales guy. But when you’re getting pressure from corporate suits to drive top line revenue…well, you know where this is going.
Anyhow, I have always had a huge distaste for advertiser threats. “You get that off the air or I’ll cancel my advertising and put it all on your competitor”. Nervous nelly sales people run to the managers office in panic..“Oh my God!!!! you’ve got to pull so and so off the air or I’ll lose this $2000 a year annual”
To be fair, I have an equal distaste for moronic, irresponsible on air behavior that would lead to such a showdown.
Lately I’ve experienced my own “situations” that sort of fall in this realm. As many of you might know, I freelance news casts in my semi retirement. The stations I do this for are clients that I have a very high regard for. With a news background, I have always subscribed to factual reporting. Somebody, years ago (I forgot who, but I never forgot the message) told me “Newsmen don’t make news. Newsmen report the news.” I never forgot that message. In reporting factual news, as it recently has related to politics, I’ve received word that it’s off limits. Seems that some listeners don’t want to hear anything that could be construed as negative as it relates to their political leanings.
There have been two of these incidents recently regarding national politics and a certain investigation. In one instance, a listener actually contacted their local representative and this touched off a inquiry from the congresspersons office to the radio station manager, who then called me. Of course the manager supported me as I explained that this was a legitimate news story and, in fact, was not the least bit negative. But, this is where we are today, in the year 2019. You better mind your P’s and Q’s buster..or else!!
Final word on this. News people at your local TV and Radio stations work their butts off to gather legitimate news stories. Fair and unbiased. Don’t confuse talk shows with news casts. There is a big big difference.