One of the many quotes that came from automaker Henry Ford has a lot of relevance to Radio Programming right now:
"If I had asked my customers what they wanted," Ford said, "they would have said a faster horse."
We are clearly faced with the opportunity and the need to re-invent. But, where do we start? Just making a better sounding station that's just like what we have now with only a few researched innovations is only a 'faster horse.' It won't compete with all the innovations in new media and become a 'leading edge' product.
The lesson from Ford's quote is that research will probably not yield new innovations. The audience can only give us feedback on what they already know and have heard. If we are going to create something innovative it's going to take a creative idea, a solid plan to implement it, and GUTS. After we have the product on the air we can and should use research to fine tune and improve it. We may also get a few clues on what the audience will and will not accept in the innovation stages.
Hopefully 2007 will be the year when Radio starts to innovate and create again.