Friday, January 09, 2009

Testing the Strength of the Radio 3 Community

Those of you who aren't Radio 3 listeners and weren't Fuse Listeners will likely get sick of hearing about this but what's the point of having your own website if you can't rant about whatever you like.

One of the things that has always drawn me to Radio 3 is the radio by community concept. I sorta laid all this out back in July of 2007 in the communications by talking to people post:
Radio 3 through their Blog, Facebook Group and on air is building a community. Many of the people at R3 are active participants in an ongoing discussion, along with musicians and fans, about music. Think of it as a 24 hour phone-in show, without call screeners or tape delay. True, occasionally people will be rude and you'll have to cut them off, but they won't hurt you. R3 listeners (however they listen) feel like participants rather than spectators and that is how you build an audience for the million channel universe. It is the difference between friends and fans.

Fans may like a program, channel etc., but ultimately they know that if they switch the channel no one will know, or really care. Friends feel more of a sense of ownership. They feel some responsibility for the well being of the program and they feel that they are participants and part of a larger community - that their involvement and participation are important. Notice the groups I started on MySpace, Facebook etc., are called 'Friends of the CBC'.
Steve Pratt, head honcho at R3 apparently agrees with this assessment.
So how does today’s branding work?  You actually have to provide value for your audience or your customers.  If you give them a stellar experience, they will tell others.  If you give them a bad experience, they will also tell others.   The word of mouth about your content or product IS your brand...The point is, you don’t get to choose. The audience creates your brand with every click of a mouse, every content rating tool they use, every comment they make about your content, and every link they send to their friends.
The departure of Amanda Putz was a blow to that community. After all, as a regular host she was one of the community leaders and I feel safe in saying that the 'community' wants her back where she was - on the morning show, on Radio 3 and it is not just me. As I said yesterday Said the Whale has weighed in. Casey Laforest of Elliott Brood weighed in back in November though he may not have known what he was weighing in on.
Best Radio Personality:
Amanda Putz (CBC) She started out with Fuse and is a huge part of Radio 3's success. My guess is she will be a household name in the near future. Watch out for this one!
. There is this person in Ottawa as well. I've talked to others, some you will have heard of and some you won't but I won't post anything here until/unless they are ready to speak for themselves. I will say that after just three days the Amanda Putz Fan Page has 127 fans and there are more every time I check the number. The Radio 3 Fan Page up for considerably longer than 3 days has 1,101. So again, what I'm saying is that the community - the audience is sending a message. This is something of a test of the 'community building' / 'the audience is in charge' approach.

I do not envy the people who have to make these decisions but making those decisions is the job they applied for. I do not envy Vish Khanna who has taken over from a very popular host and, though he may be very good, cannot be Amanda Putz. I bear none of these people any ill will, but I can also say that this isn't going away. I'm contemplating ideas to ratchet things up a notch - I've talked to alot of people who are pretty angry about it and have actually had to calm people down.

So, for now, I'm going to guess that anyone reading this to this point has already sent an email to, I'd also urge you to contact CBC Audience Services and let them know you want Amanda back on the air where she belongs.

I'm sure there will be more next week. Stay tuned.


Steve Pratt said...

Hi Justin,
As you mention in your post, I know that if we give everyone a great experience, they’ll hopefully talk about it, and if you give everyone a bad experience, they’ll DEFINITELY talk about it. We try VERY hard at Radio 3 to be transparent and honest with our audience and to listen to them whenever we can.
Sometimes, though, as you mention, we do have to make very tough decisions and there is no win-win possible. (Yes, I did sign up for making those decisions, although I certainly don’t consider it a perk of the job. ) Amanda is a hugely talented person and a wonderful champion of independent Canadian music and I just want to assure you and everyone else that her move from Radio 3 to Radio 2’s Canada Live program has absolutely nothing to do with her performance. She has done a stellar job in her time with us.
A bit of background is important to know, though:
• Amanda has never been a full-time Radio 3 employee.
• We have begged and borrowed for her time from Radio 2 because we think she’s a great fit for us and the R3 community.
• However, we have never been able to make Amanda a full-time employee at Radio 3.
• And so we’ve creatively and aggressively carved out room in our budget to keep her with us over the better part of a year and we are in the very regrettable position of no longer being able to do that financially.
• We also have a host that has just returned from maternity leave.
I think it’s also important to note that ALL of our hosts at Radio 3 have very loyal fans and if the circumstances had been different and affected someone other than Amanda, I would still be writing this same note to another passionate fan, only it would be regarding a different host.
Please know that I continue to actively search for a way to get Amanda back with us at Radio 3, but that at this moment, I am not able to do it. I take heart that Amanda is still working to champion and support the Canadian music community at CBC on Canada Live, but know that her heart and strengths are as a host. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get her back in front of a microphone soon. For now, I hope it is enough for you to know that Amanda is deeply valued by everyone at Radio 3 and that we’d love to find a way to have her back with us.
Thanks for your ongoing support of Radio 3 and Amanda,
Steve Pratt
Director, CBC Radio 3

prosonik said...

I think it's interesting that the focus is on losing Amanda Putz and not focusing on why FUSE and Putz have not found a home and podcast on Radio3? I love fuse. I think it's a great show. I listened to it on Radio1 and never understood where it fit in. I suppose it's R2 content as well (Can I say how great R2 is now?) But really, Amanda hosting Fuse belongs on R3. It's time to get fuse back on the radio, and put it where it belongs.

Finally, it is great to see the staff at R3 take an interest and involved with the community discussion. What a change from normal broadcasting


Justin Beach said...

Thanks for explaining your position Steve. You know that I have nothing but respect for you and R3. I think though that at some point, I can't say when, but sometime in the last year things started to go off course and I think that losing Amanda, whatever the reasoning, compounds that problem. I have little doubt that Amanda will be back on the air somewhere before the year is out, but I'm afraid this could do lasting damage to Radio 3 especially with competition coming online this year and satellite radio on it's way out. I won't go into specifics here, it's not the right forum and wouldn't accomplish much, but I can go into detail elsewhere if you like.

Oh...and having Fuse back would be awesome.