blog by Envision Networks VP of Programming, Michael Lichtstein

Our network receives anywhere from ten to fifty pitches a week from radio programmers, fans, and others who want to be syndicated. The subject matter is vast, ranging from daily Beatles features to weekly shows about addiction and drug abuse. The quality tends to be a mixed bag, but we listen to each idea with the hope of finding that rare gem that gets everything right, from the writing to the V.O. to the imaging and production.

Among the dozens and dozens of shows that get presented to us, at least half are shows featuring their own blends of music. My question is – Why?

I like to frame things this way: If the stations we serve are the color red, then the shows we offer them can certainly be red with pink stripes, but they can’t be the color black. For a station to pick up a show, it must be within the confines of what they’re already doing.

We like to think that most stations know the right mix of music for their demographic. As much experience as you might have, it’s always a difficult task convincing the GM or PD that someone not affiliated with their station or cluster has a mix of music worthy of suspending theirs for.

Simply stated: Do not tamper with the music mix.

Come up with a clever idea of what to do in between the songs. Can you offer information to improve people’s lives? Are there certain types of entertainment stories or nuggets of information that you can take a unique angle on? Can comedy play a role in what you offer?

Look to give stations something they can’t do on their own. Before submitting your idea for syndication, ask yourself: Can the stations present this material just as well on the local level? Does my idea fit in with their format and overall voice?

That said, there’s room for innovation in radio. If you have a solid idea for a unique music mix and sound reasons why there would be mass appeal, consider pitching a 24/7 format. They can be completely music based and are in strong demand. The legacy formatting divisions the industry operates under have inherent value, but as we move towards a more global, diverse society as a whole, one where listeners have all the music in the world at their fingertips, it is certainly likely that listeners might crave a new experience with radio. You could be the one to create that experience.

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