My kids recently took me to my first outdoor major league soccer game.  I mean “match.”  It was a lot of fun, but frankly there was a lot of stuff I simply didn’t understand.

Did you know that a referee can stick on extra time at the end for any reason he wants?  I was confused.  Now, I understand overtime in football, sudden death in golf, and extra innings in baseball, but I had no context for understanding why they kept playing AFTER the clock ran out until someone blew a whistle.


A few years ago a video went viral of Grammy winning violinist Joshua Bell dressed as a typical street musician performing in a DC metro station.

“During the approximately 45 minute performance, 1,097 people walked past, but only seven people stopped to listen, and only one person recognized him…

…Would people have stopped to listen under different conditions:  If they were told who he was or what he was doing, if they recognized his skill in playing Bach’s “Chaconne,” if he was playing at another time of day, or if he was simply well-dressed?  People had no context for understanding how Joshua Bell was something other than another ordinary street peddler.”

Psychology Today

Here’s a dare!

I dare you to listen to your station for just one hour from the perspective of a brand new listener.   (We really can’t have that perspective because of “The Curse of Knowledge.”*, but I have to keep writing another 115 words).

Do you hear anything that communicates why your radio station exists?  You know, that vision and purpose thing.  Do you help create a context for songs and singers new listeners have never heard of?

“Content that is perceived as helpful always addresses a felt need.  Content that doesn’t address a felt need is perceive as irrelevant.  Notice I said perceived.  It may be the most relevant information an audience has ever heard.  But if an audiences doesn’t understand how content interfaces with their lives, it’s just not all that interesting.”

Andy Stanley, “Deep and Wide”

Like a world class violinist in a subway, without a context for understanding listeners will simply scan across the radio dial without even noticing you.