"Absolutely nothing!" I imagine the CBC Radio management chorus responding.
Let's take a moment to consider the value of marketing surveys in the operation of any commercial enterprise which hopes to attract and retain customers.
Suppose you are the President of a corporation that is publicly traded. Your product, chocolate cupcakes, has achieved a 10% market share in the snack foods category. Market share data reveals that your customers are fiercely loyal, tending to be elderly (although it is questionable whether it is really only the elderly that enjoy chocolate cupcakes) and consume a consistent amount of cupcakes each day. Your market share of the snack foods category is not growing, but it is not declining either.
Now, for some unexplained reason, you believe that you will have better success in the market with Hot 'n Spicy Dried Turkey Gizzards instead of chocolate cupcakes. You decide to target the dynamic and sprightly 35 - 49 year olds for your new Hot 'n Spicy Dried Turkey Gizzards and cease production of chocolate cupcakes.
What do you do? Do you first conduct market surveys among your current consumers to see if they would prefer Hot 'n Spicy Dried Turkey Gizzards over chocolate cupcakes? Do you also conduct surveys of your target market, the dynamic and sprightly 35 - 49 year olds to determine if they will purchase your Hot 'n Spicy Dried Turkey Gizzards and, if so, how much they will purchase? Once you have completed your consumer surveys, do you hold focus group sessions to see if your target market, as well as your current customers, like your Hot 'n Spicy Dried Turkey Gizzards? And, following your focus group sessions (assuming they confirm your expectations), do you conduct some trial market studies in selected markets to determine if consumers will do what they said they would do in the focus group sessions, and actually buy your Hot 'n Spicy Dried Turkey Gizzards?
Well, if you have any sense, of course you do all of that, and probably much more. As well, since this represents a major change of direction for the company, you may even consider consulting your shareholders at the next AGM before making such a drastic change in the company's product. If your shareholders are also your customers then it makes even more sense to consult both groups. If you are the management of CBC Radio, do you also follow the same course of action? Apparently not - you know better than your customers and shareholders what they want and need!
In the March 19 2007 Globe and Mail article that I have mentioned previously, there is a quote from Ms. Jennifer McGuire, identified in the article as CBC Radio's executive director of programming (text in italics is my addition, not part of the original Globe and Mail article):
"But the CBC said it has tried to avert some of that controversy this time [referring to previous controversy concerning changes made to the Radio One schedule]. "Everybody is always concerned about change at CBC Radio because they [listeners] are heavily invested in it, and that's a good thing", McGuire said. But "we have talked to all the organizations. We talked to composers. We talked to them when we started the study [to overhaul CBC Radio] and when we were thinking about what it meant in terms of programming changes ... That conversation continues to be ongoing."
And, in his March 22 response to a comment from Larry, Mr. Jowi Taylor stated (and I'm sorry to appear to be picking on Mr. Jowi Taylor so much in this blog, but when you have so few spokespersons commenting publicly on the Radio Two programming changes, you have to take your CBC Radio spokespersons where you find them):
As for consultation, there was month after month after month of it with all kinds of stakeholders - from listeners to orchestras to presenters to SOCAN to the musicians' association to... you name it.
Well, isn't that wonderful? Months after months of consultion - apparently even some listeners were included! But did you hear about it? When did you first hear of the programming changes? Did you participate in a survey? Were you invited to a focus group session? Were you in one of the test markets where the new programming was trialed before it was launched nation-wide? Did you see the announcement on the CBC Radio web site? Did you hear the Cross-country Checkup program that was devoted to this topic? Did you see the advertisements in the national newspapers that announced these proposed changes, and solicited consumer (and shareholder) feedback? Well, you might have, but I certainly did not, because I don't believe any of those things took place. I'd like to be proven wrong, but I don't see any evidence of that yet.
And what about the consultations that took place with composers, as stated by Ms. Jennifer McGuire? For another comment on this topic, see Ms. Linda Roger's blog entry of April 2, 2007, titled "CBC changes--Letter from the President of the Canadian League of Composers". I will let Dr. Paul Steenhuisen's words speak for themselves, and not reproduce them here.
I would be interested (as a shareholder in the corporation) in seeing any evidence that CBC Radio can present to show that they did in fact perform due diligence to determine that these programming changes would be of interest to the CBC Radio Two audience and to CBC shareholders. CBC Radio spokespersons, are you out there?