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The Robinson Report – Secret Weapon (Revisited)

“Great content is the best sales tool in the world.” – Marcus Sheridan

The world is saturated with places you can curate your own playlist. 

The three strategic (mostly) non-duplicable differentiators are simple: 

1. Content (Music – Talk)

2. Talent

3. Brand Atmospherics 

Which – if you’re a music provider – consider a Secret Weapon record. 

A little musical nugget that gives flavor and unpredictability to your brand.   

Totally subjective, non-quantifiable and all gut. 

The definition varies – it could be a record company fumble, a revived song from a movie (or commercial) or a treasure hidden in a lost album.

Scott Shannon developed this concept at Z100 in the 80’s.   

On Scott’s desk, among the heaping pile of trade magazines, music logs and yesterday’s lunch where a stack of carts – ready for action. 

Scott – occasionally – would pick up a cart and march it into the studio with the proclamation “Play this next!”   

No reason other than it was a good record that his GUT told him it worked on his station. 

In the #1 market in America. 

While at WPLJ-New York, Scott’s gut brought James Blunt to America.   

You don’t have to wait for someone to bring it to you.  

You’re already thinking of a few that would work on your station. 

But, by format I’ll give you a Secret Weapon Starter Kit

Top 40 – Alternative

Hot AC

Mainstream AC

  • Wait – Mainstream AC doesn’t take chances.  
  • (OK – Mary Chapin Carpenter’s 10,000 Miles – air that)

Classic Hits/Classic Rock

  • The forgotten nugget from Honeymoon Suite – What Does It Take.  From the One Crazy Summer soundtrack. Bonus – it tests, too!
  • Now that Rolling Stones are touring again – Mixed Emotions.  Good record, just not a good Stones record. 


  • MercyMe’s Here Am I – if released today, instant #1!
  • Many shunned Josh Turner’s Long Black Train, either for sonic value or the filter.  


  • Check out Kristina Cornell’s Little Red Balloon – and grab a tissue.
  • Country gold – Whiskey Lady by The Oak Ridge Boys – best vocals and backing band of the 80’s with a great message!


  • Roll down the windows for Gino Vanelli’s Wild Horses -organic and fun!
  • Under exposed – Bruce Cockburn’s Pacing The Cage.  Terrific, painful emotion. Bonus – Jimmy Buffett covers it.


The list rolls on (KlatuuMartin BrileyLiving In A Box) but we’ll will stop here. 

Your numbers aren’t soft because there’s no good music.   

You’re simply not digging deep enough! 

Secret Weapons are there to differentiate YOUR brand. 

Your job? Find them! 

The best part is that it’s all GUT – your gut! 

Isn’t that why we jumped into radio? 

Next Up – Gold