It has been a strange week in radio – we have witnessed its nadir, as Kyle Sandilands demonstrated the worst of radio and became a pariah for all good thinking people in the media and we now have Classic FM’s Classic 100, where the listener is drawn in to a rather premeditated example of ratings catch using all the means possible – from the myth of participation to the active use of social media to make the listener believe in their ability to participate in an ex post facto event.
It is not hard to become cynical about these events because they both stem from the same level of expectation – in the first, to create a flurry of feedback in the social media by a rather stupid and reckless comment and the second, to create a flurry of feedback in the social media by carefully staging a “staged” event. Each is orchestrated from the top down,not from the bottom up, as the media pariahs lead one to believe. All this is carefully stage-managed, with the appropriate emotions leading to a succesful conclusion. The latter, of course, being the most predictable of outcomes, (for at least the top 5 were already chosen at least a month before the closing date in order to create a concert at the end of the countdown…)
These “active’ managed events stem from a time when radio actually had to create a ‘spontaneity”in the predictable programming schedule in order to assemble a perception of a new reality in the media. In this country I believe it stems from the need to constantly streamline breakfast shows into a slightly anarchic structure in order for the listener to believe that things are constantly changing, but , as anyone who has worked in the media knows each of these anarchic structures is carefully planned, orchestrated and sprung upon the unsuspecting listener by the announcers or presentation staff.
However, the world changes rapidly and stage management has become stage popularising so that we can ONLY expect the so-called spontaneous as the norm rather than the display of the norm as anarchic. We are as confused now as we were 30 years ago, because today new media has scrambled the message and made it open to an interpretation out of the context and out of the “theatre of the media”