Signs of the season - Christmas carols whilst cleaning out your desk...

This weekend, as I was preparing for the week, I ran across John Gorman's site and this post on some of the signs of the season:
Radio: The Grim Reaper is the new Santa Claus: "I’ll tell it like it is. The Grim Reaper is the new Santa Claus.

It’s a bummed-out Christmas for our industry.

The bad news far outweighed the good.

A survivor of a recent massacre called to tell how surreal it was. One of their other stations had changed to its annual continuous Christmas format – and its music was being piped through the building as terminated employees were being escorted from the building.

There’s nothing like being ordered to leave the premises while Burl Ives sings ‘Have a holly jolly Christmas.’

Our industry used to be fun. On a good day it didn’t seem like work – and even the bad days were good."

(Via John Gorman's Media Blog.)

Pretty eerie stuff.

After getting your attention, John gets down to the meat of the matter - that radio needs to focus on doing better radio. This means many things, but above all it means keeping the passion in the presentation - whether delivered via 100,000 watt transmitters or streamed via WiMax or anything in between.

One of the most powerful tools that radio people have at their disposal theses days is the concept of "social networking." This is no secret to anyone who has been following the radio cognoscenti recently; but how we go about it is still somewhat opaque to most.

The fact is, radio has been a "social network" all along. People have a shared experience listening to their favorite station; some contribute "user generated content" (calls to Limbaugh and Hannity), some attend concerts, remote broadcasts, listener parties, live recording sessions, and so on. This social networking around radio has been going on since well before I was born. It's what attracted many of us to the business to begin with.

So - we need to expand our social networking experience to take advantage of new venues, whether they be Facebook, MySpace, Twitter or an iPhone application like Radiolicious. Use technology like Messagecasting (customized messaging to RDS displays on radios) to create even more powerful ties to your people (for example, crowdsource an event by messaging over Twitter and your Messagecasting channel). Tie it all together with a way for your advertisers to tap into this powerful network.

This is what radio folks have been doing forever. But, we have strayed from the path of providing genuineness to our listener. One thing we can't do is be disingenuous with these new social networking tools. That is the kiss of death, since the response mechanisms for the listener are so available, so immediate.

There's a challenging year ahead, but we can make this the year we re-confirm that radio does connect to lives in a powerful way.