RADIO'S TEN COMMANDMENTS AND THE PROMISED LAND


These points came from a speech by Elmo Ellis of WSB Atlanta at the 1961 meeting of the Alabama Broadcasters Association.

They are as true today as they were more than 50 years ago.

1. Thou shalt operate at a profit.
That means running the station in such a professional and skillful manner as to be immune from the danger or temptation of the quick-buck, the fly-by-night advertiser, the shady per inquiry deals, or the cut-rate, cut-throat competition that cheapens the airwaves in so many communities.

2. Thou shalt broadcast the needs, desires and interests of the community.
This implies integrating the station into the community so that it reflects the thinking of its citizens - their problems and how to solve them - what people are doing and saying, and how they feel on matters of general interest.

This also means undertaking to make the community a better place to live by promoting good schools, modern hospitals, sound churches, clean and spacious parks, fine health and welfare organizations, adequate transportation facilities, a good police force and fire department, an efficient city administration.

3. Thou shalt report the news of the world with truth and honor.
There is no substitute for a trained newsman. And there is no satisfactory substitute for accurate, authoritative, reliable radio news reporting. A teletype sound effect won't cover up a hack reporter.

4. Thou shalt be original.
This is a commandment that too few broadcasters obey. And unhappily, the airwaves are filled with a sameness of sounds.

Take a magazine or newspaper and see what's on people's minds. There are oodles of subjects, but suppose you decide on a simple subject such as "The Secrets of a Successful Marriage."

Now with this idea, you're only a step away from one or more new broadcast creations. You can call wives and husbands and talk with them on the phone about their "Secrets For a Successful Marriage." . . . You may invite guests into the studio, or go out with a tape recorder. . . . Do an editorial on the subject. The possibilities go on and on.

5. Thou shalt Not covet another broadcaster's programs or personalities.
Radio is the one medium where stations sell harder against one another than they sell against newspapers, magazines, television and other competitive media. It's a senseless type of warfare and it's harmful to our profession - but still we do it.

6. Thou shalt protect and defend the Radio Industry.
Every broadcaster should be eloquent and evangelical in explaining, defending if necessary, and promoting broadcasting and the broadcaster's rights to the audience, to advertisers, and to government officials.

7. Thou shalt cherish the right to be wrong.
We all make mistakes. From them we learn and profit. But in order to make mistakes, we must be willing to experiment. . . no idea is ridiculous or silly. Respect listeners' opinions, too.

8. Thou shalt make radio a partnership with the public.
Allow listeners to participate actively in the planning, programming and production of your broadcasts, so they will be involved in every moment of air time.

9. Thou shalt love thy audience as thyself.
Practice the Golden Rule. Do unto the listener what you would have the listener do unto you.

If we sincerely try to live up to this precept - if we make ourselves sit down and listen to the programs we expect our listeners to accept - then we will remove from the airwaves the cheap, the suggestive, the inferior specimens of music, news, commercials, and other program material.

10. Thou shalt broadcast with pride.
It's time we lifted our heads and walked side-by-side with the other sparkplugs of the town. Our newsmen should demand and deserve the same respect as newspapermen. Our announcers should be civic, church and school leaders. Our stations should be spokesmen for enlightened thought and progressive movements. Our industry should insist on the same rights and privileges and freedoms enjoyed by other media.


From the November 6, 1961 issue of Broadcasting magazine.


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