Vote-Ola: Should Hillary Clinton Be In Radio?

By: Lee Kent Hempfling

Hillary Clinton really is in this thing. In response to the most recent essay; ‘He’s Al Franken’; I received a response that made me laugh. Since the email was from a fake address, and the short complaint was angry; I was laughing at what the author did not realize. That article chipped away enough at his perception of reality that he just had to defend it. “Strengths in visual thinking do not rule out an ability to think logically or to recall memories in a different way. Further, there’s a huge difference in invading a country with an army and allowing weapons inspectors in with weapon-wielding bodyguards.”

Yes there is a difference alright. That was the first point of his aggravation. ‘He’s Al Franken’ did not declare visual thinkers alone, suffered from the non-use of their method of thinking. And the obvious difference between an army and a clandestine insurgent: is the Army engages the enemy through force, while the U.N. cloaked soldiers-bodyguards?, ‘carrying a peace sign to cover up the heavy weaponry’; engages the enemy through deception. There is apparently no honor in being a liberal. Or wouldn’t that conclusion be just as inductive as the author’s previous two? How about, it is the same ideology of the terrorists. Or is that inductive as well?

Al Franken was a part of the ill-fated Air-America; which was doomed to failure before it even started as the only reason conservative talk radio survives is that conservatives have far less special interest causes than liberals. It makes for easy programming. Focus only on the real hot buttons, stay away from the fringe arguments of the rabble-rousers; unless your show is tailored to a specific micro target and would therefore ‘view’ or ‘see’ every topic from their perspective. Radio has become fractured, but the rules still stay the same. Do what the audience wants and you will survive. If you do what you want you will either create a new audience focus, or you will be ignored by that audience.

Radio thinks the audience wants music. Sure they do. Just not on radio. They want it in their i-pods. They want it in the cell phones. Radio comes from the box in the car. There is no ‘radio’ inside the house. What decade are you living in? Hillary Clinton really is in this thing.

Radio is only succesful when the product being broadcast gives the listener a real reason to stick around a few hours, especially on both sides of the change in show start and stop times. The typical radio 2-6 or 3-7 afternoon drive times are placed there to take advantage of the working listener’s time habits. Start at 2 if you have a blue-collar audience. Start at 3 or even 4 if you have a white collar audience. Very few programmers comprehend that.

Liberal talk radio is about the fractions. It is about the many different, passionate and emotional issues of the potential audience. Being that diverse, nobody has a reason to feel compelled to listen to something that is talking about someone else’s pet project, aggravation, distaste or bigotry for or against. It is why liberals can attack each other but join forces if anyone not liberal is doing the attacking, and why only hatred for George W. Bush binds anything.

The rules still hold true. A focused product is only focused when it is looking from the perspective of its potential audience. If it is looking from the perspective of the corporation, or the ‘big guy’ or even the programmer or disk jockey; it is doomed to fail.

To answer the question of ‘what do i want’, with ‘me me me’ (how radio promotes) is looking from the perspective of the radio station. The consumer sees noise and i-pods don’t do that. If radio were to look from the perspective of the potential audience it would be seeing a vision of a people, fragmented, disoriented, disillusioned, disappointed, depressed and confused. Give it an ice-cream cone, with sprinkles. Answer the question of ‘what do i want’, with, ‘i want that now’. Market in the perspective of appealing to the MOST people, instead of appealing to just the few remaining old fad format hanger-on, seeking anything new, even if it kills them.

Radio is playing the most sophisticated and technologically advanced music ever created and it is doing it, doomed to fail.

Back when commercial radio began, music was pretty much bland in order to have the music played at all. Society directed radio to play what it wanted to hear through purchases of the records the station played. Radio that played the ‘new styles’ took the hit in the pocket book for a greater vision. If it were not for the pioneers in the business the new styles would never have become mainstream. But just like it took a hunger to create Boss radio, it took a fever once it became aware of its power.

It was not easy to be different.

It took demand for new styles to originate. The demanding came in the form of the artists who created the sound of the 50′s, the demand for the records came from likewise restless hearts. The artists’ demand for something different, something superior, was met by their having to do it themselves.

Then the record labels thought they knew better. Instead of serving songs to radio, the labels served songs to public bigotries. Black songs went to black radio stations. White songs didn’t.

After having spent so many years in that business I feel undignified to not admit the obvious. If the labels and radio had picked the long term success route, instead of the instant success route there would not be so much division today. Bigotry would have had a real chance of following Martin Luther King’s vision.

Over the years the division became even greater as black radio developed ‘formats’ and even resorted to eliminating the music for the rhythm with rap. Each ‘format’ split away into what was the emerging sub-cultures; that provided the artist’s and label executives who had to create something new and superior to them as well.

It happened in the ‘white’ formats too. Radio was split racially, by format, on PURPOSE. Hillary Clinton really is in this thing.

It was further fragmented by its formatting divides. A country jock would not be caught dead trying to submit a resume to a rap station, neither would the rapper in reverse. They did not work for radio. They worked for the music.

In the beginning, jocks worked ‘in radio’. Then they started to work ‘for radio’. Then it evolved into ‘for this radio station’, to ‘for WXYZ’, to ‘for Clear Channel’, to what it is today: ‘for myself’.

And radio wonders why it is in such sad shape with the population of upcoming potential radio listeners.

Radio needs the same solution society does. And since we have seen the power of radio and records to screw it all up, it just seems fitting to me for radio and records to fix what they broke; both their industries and the nation’s youth.

Today we have what appears to be an ‘un-attributed’ allegation that Hillary Clinton’s campaign was going to, but had not yet, therefore this is a total waste of time: pay for the ‘services’ of a company in order to get the owner of that company to endorse her for President.

Each time I’ve read about this rather disturbing (oh heck, it really ticked me off) allegation I have been wondering what in the world would the violation be? Nothing I could think of came to mind, so I tried hunting for the answer and got no where. Then I happened to have mentioned to my wife Suesie that I was writing an article (you can imagine the shrug I got) and in it I was blaming the current state of racial relations in this country squarely on the shoulders of the broadcasting industry, specifically commercial radio.

She blurted out the point without even knowing where I had already trotted off to.

Its just like payola-plugola. I inquired of her meaning.

Dummy, Hillary doing what she did to get an endorsement is no different than a radio corporate, small and large, receiving cash income from record labels or for that matter it was no different than a disk jockey playing a song for a label executive so his house would get a new roof.

Plugola doesn’t care who got the money. It cares who caused the money to be paid in the first place, because the integrity of the artists is at stake.

Well, the integrity of the country’s citizenry is at stake when an endorsement can be given for placing a deal with a company that is not only owned by the man who is having it paid, but shares his home address; and is reported to the state legislature differently than it is reported to the South Carolina Secretary of State, or ‘dummy’, there is more than one company.

That would mean the company was the man, regardless of the corporate veil being used to shroud the fact. Look it up. I did.

That would be plug-ola (an issue I have had experiencing cleaning up). Or in this case a violation of ‘vote-ola’. By buying off the endorser, who carries so much weight in the state that it was Edward’s only who-rah, it means the votes of those persons swayed by that endorsement are indirectly being purchased without their receiving the income. Plug-, ah, vote-ola. Oh heck.. Its slavery.

Pay-ola in politics is simply just a straight forward bribe.

Radio broke it indeed. The perpetrators of its worst conditions are employing a radio crime.

Since radio broke it, and it was so near to my heart for so many years, I would appreciate your indulgence in allowing me to suggest a ‘fix’ for the radio industry. I am truly sorry for the ‘longer than necessary’ means in which I write. I have spent so many years having four hours to tell one story, in 5 and 15 and 30 and 60 second segments that my writing is much like my speaking. Overly detailed. One has to smile wider than normal to a microphone to allow the listener to know the voice is happy and not mad.

What is the solution to radio’s revenue stream and future listener problem?

Go back to doing what you started to do in the first place.

Radio played music to the next generation and in doing so, helped to form it.

Society raised the next generation.

Today music plays radio and the next generation is raising itself, listening to a completely unfocused, program director’s nightmare of a cluster disaster of songs.

I like all kinds of music. I just like what the people like: the most appealing to the most people kind of music. New music that is stranger than that, is a sub-culture waiting to happen. Society has joined sub-cultures instead of tempered them, and the society is facing extinction because of it.

Radio should play music, just not split up into fractions and playing different kinds of music no one could agree on for simple internal clock issues.

Making the hits: is the process of placing the ‘next big artist’ or the ‘next big seller’ on the air, first.

The same concept applies to the industry. By playing to a homoginized audience, the industry would be choosing the songs, once again locally, by the programmer responsible for providing them to his listeners. The music that did not fit the majority of the people would not make air time. Lables would quickly respond by cutting back on the violent and hate-filled lyrics and styles. The music industry would be forced to clean up its act.

Radio would once again be in control of its place. Labels would return to having to service radio (without radio getting ‘serviced’) instead of catering to it, a pre-selected, reaction driven disaster of a music collection.

And the children of today, who would be learning to develop their bigotries around whatever music genre is compelling to them; would not be so divided in their motivations and therefore, when an adult, would have a much better chance at surviving together with other music lovers.

Today we celebrate diversity which stops us from seeing the potential of similar. Our music is drastically different. It is too easy to be different. Being different is either your doing or it is not.

If you are different because you are smart and creative and fearless then you cannot be different because it is ‘in’ to be different. We run out and join the like-minded different people to become ‘one’ in a cause when if we just bothered to be ourselves in the first place we would all be different while being the same people.

American Idol, in this very season has a young lady named Lakishia, who if given the chance, would do; Aretha proud and could help launch the other salvation of the radio industry: a return to making the music have purpose, and doing it in a proven technique, as it is the same as what the movies do.

Create a feature from an old TV show. Start a new fad all over again for the new generation. The format worked, the music worked, the marketing worked, it was revolutionary to that audience and it will be refreshingly compelling to this new audience.

Encourage artists to record songs like the songs of the 60′s, regardless of race and create that new format and a new beginning for the radio and music industries. Download or not, being responsible for creating a new ‘thing’ is success, even in radio.

I still wonder why, if what Hillary’s camp is said to have agreed to do, actually happens; and some prosecutor bothers, or the South Carolina Joint State And Federal Government Corruption Task Force looks to follow that money trail and it winds up at the very same address as the bed of the owner; why would that not be a crime? It is in radio. And crimes are committing just for the integrity of the pocketbook. Isn’t there an issue somewhere about the integrity of the vote? How about the integrity of the voter? Hillary Clinton really is in this thing.

So what if a person does a thing while some other thing or person gets paid for it and there is no connection between them that is legal, therefore no law was broken: Radio called them the ‘indie’ who gave you what you wanted to play a song; politics calls it a 527; and one industry calls that a pimp.

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