When you listen to your station what do you hear?

Do you hear one song, then another, then another interspersed with talk?  Or do you hear music and friendly conversation that can be life changing?

Do you hear the same songs over and over and over?  Or do you hear stories that inspire and help tune out the negative noise?

A better question might be, “what do you choose to hear?”

I could listen to the same station with four different managers and…

…the one with a technical background would hear the processing, the quality of signal and source material, and fullness of sound.

…the one with an academic or church background might notice the religiosity, types of information, or community initiatives.

…the one from the business world or sales would notice the categories, the quantities, and the ROI.

Are they wrong?  Well, not exactly.  But that’s NOT what the listener hears.

“We are quick to jump to conclusions because we give too much weight to the information that is right in front of us, while failing to consider the information that’s just offstage.  It’s called ‘the spotlight effect.’

The spotlight only lights one spot.  Everything outside it is obscured.  When we begin to shift the spotlight from side to side the situation starts to look very different.  And that, in essence, is the core difficulty in decision making (and programming).

What’s in the spotlight will rarely be everything we need to make a good decision, but we won’t always remember to shift the light.  Sometimes, in fact, we’ll forget there’s a spotlight at all, dwelling so long in the tiny circle of light that we forget there’s a broader landscape beyond it.”

Our experiences and biases inevitably form our own spotlight effect for decision making.  We will hear what we choose to hear.  Then PRESTO!  We begin to paint by the numbers.  Not enough of this; too much of this!

But paint by the numbers is not how great radio stations are created.  Or evaluated.

Great programmers are trained to hear what listeners hear.

Inspired by Seth Godin’s What do you see?