21 Thoughts on Programming in 2024

Guest contribution by Dave Charles and Lee Abrams

The world is currently in a negative state, and it is crucial to explore new forms of media programming that actively engage the new mainstream in innovative and culture-shifting ways. These new approaches can have a significant impact on the cultural mood. If you follow this new path you will reap the rewards.

After reviewing extensive notes on the characteristics that define breakthrough culture-changing media products across various platforms, it becomes apparent that the majority of so-called “breakthrough”  companies are merely updated versions of the same old ideas.

True breakthroughs require:

 1. Embracing Technology: Developing new and amazing programming that matches the ever-evolving technology landscape. It is essential to marry programming innovation with technological advancement to drive meaningful change.

2. Totally New Architecture: The entire experience needs to be different. The old way of doing things no longer resonates. Unorthodox thinking and movements within media are necessary to captivate and move audiences. It is disheartening to see companies, especially in the news and information sector, claim to be different while merely repackaging the same old content with superficial changes.

3. Audio and Video Innovation: Sound is just as important as visuals. In our technicolor world of multi-sensory stimulation, creating a whole new sound experience is crucial.

4. Guts: This endeavor is not for those who fear taking risks, overthink decisions, lack urgency, or cling to the past. It requires razor-sharp leadership, focus, and unwavering passion. Only the courageous will succeed in 2024 and beyond.

5. Syncing with the Era: We are living in a historic period of change. To make an impact, we must flow with the changes, embrace the new wave that the new mainstream is riding, and board the ship of change.

6. New Generation of Personalities: It’s time to liberate new voices and personalities that resonate with the current era.  

7. Local Engagement: Being completely absorbed in the community is crucial. In today’s global age, community extends beyond just a single location. Engaging a wide geographic service area can be as personal and impactful as focusing on a small community.

8. New Programming Trademarks: These are the hooks that create additional reasons for audience engagement. They should be fresh, compelling, and innovative, even if they may eventually evolve into clichés.

9. Completeness: Every aspect of the programming, from the way the receptionist greets guests to the core concept itself, should be in sync with each other. “Sorta” doing it is not an option.

10. Integrity: Lasting game-changers are rooted in unwavering integrity. This does not mean being uptight or elite, but rather being consistently honest. Integrity may be lost as companies grow, but it must be ingrained in their DNA. In today’s skeptical climate, maintaining integrity is crucial.

11. Enlightening: This goes beyond traditional media thinking and embraces the power of enlightening content. It is essential in an era where the world is stuck in a negative mindset. Enlightening content presents reality through a new lens, going beyond just happy news.

12. Passion in the Building: The people involved must be driven by a strong sense of mission rather than treating it as just a job. Recruiting and creative training play a critical role in developing a passionate team.

13. Audience Respect: True audience respect goes beyond empty slogans. Building genuine respect for the audience creates fans rather than mere users. Think of the difference between Star Wars “users” and devoted fans.

14. The Cool Factor: Some things cannot be determined through focus groups. The “cool factor” or the “It” factor is something that either exists or doesn’t. It should be allowed to happen naturally, without repression.

15. Intelligent: Many overseas companies are surpassing traditionally American-dominated entities due to their intellectually enlightened programming. Emphasizing intelligence in programming can raise the national IQ.

16. Commitment: Half-hearted attempts will not suffice. While evaluation, evolution, and flexibility are necessary, there should be no doubt about the commitment to the cause.

17. Under Sold: Instead of overselling to the public, let the greatness of the product speak for itself. This should not be confused with marketing tactics but rather relying on the quality and impact of the programming.

18. Information is the New Rock ‘n’ Roll: Embrace the power of information to rock and shape the state of the world.

19. Clever: Forward-thinking and looking for the next big thing is essential. It requires constant innovation and the ability to think beyond the present.

20. You Are an Idiot until It’s Successful, Then You Are a Genius: Detractors will always be quick to criticize, but success will silence them. Embrace the challenges and prove the doubters wrong.

21. Successful: While achieving success is incredibly difficult and demanding, it is a worthy pursuit that can transform lives. Dedicate your life to making a meaningful impact.

Dave Charles (left) is the President of Media RESULTS Inc. With more than six decades spent working in radio here and overseas he was recently inducted into the Canadian Broadcasters Hall of Fame. Lee Abrams (right) has worked as a consultant to over 1,000 radio stations,  12 major print publications, tv stations and cable networks and is the designer of XM satellite radio programming.  

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