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Chriss Scherer Scherer has been the editor of Radio magazine since 1997. His experience in radio includes work as chief engineer at stations in Cleveland (WMMS-FM, WHK-AM, WZJM-FM, WJMO-AM...more

Archive for May 9th, 2008

When amateur challenges professional

As technology evolves, it becomes more accessible to the masses. I’m not just talking about smaller media players and the ability to access media on just about any electronic device, I’m talking about creation of this media.

It used to be that publishing printed materials, producing songs and distributing entertainment were expensive projects. There were high costs in creating the material, and high costs in distributing it. Then the world changed. Desktop publishing, home recording and the great pipe — the Internet — made all of these project accessible to the masses. The ability to create is ubiquitous now. It extends far beyond publishing and recording, but those are just two examples.

Projects are created and exchanged all over the Internet. Some are so bad I can’t believe someone completed it and then sat back with pride and thought, “This is really good.” I would show some of those to anyone. I wouldn’t have even saved it if I created it. But the world accepts mediocrity now.

Just making the effort appears to be sufficient. It doesn’t matter if it’s a stick figure or the Mona Lisa. Society is losing the distinction between a quality work and just showing up for work. Everyone gets a participant ribbon.

What does this have to do with radio? I received an e-mail message that touted that the newest hobby is to be a DJ at home. This is a new hobby? I think everyone who works in radio played DJ at home at some point. Regardless, the message showed that anyone can purchase some basic equipment and be a DJ at home.

If consumers can create their own entertainment, why do they need radio? Well, for one, people are lazy. We like to have other people do things for us. This includes entertaining us. Still, if the average Joe can provide a jukebox listening experience, why should the radio station?

The level of quality available to the consumer continues to rise. As this happens, established media (radio in this case) needs to stay ahead and remain a better product. Professional should always be better than consumer or amateur. Radio stations need to continue to raise the bar to maintain a higher level of quality and service than what consumers can create. Consumers are learning how to make radio on their own. We already know how, but we have to continue to do it better.

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