On the morning of Tuesday 20 June, I had the opportunity to chat with David O'Sullivan, breakfast show host on KayaFM, 2017 SA Radio Station of the Year, about my latest book, 'Tim Noakes: The Quiet Maverick'. David is a former colleague of mine from Talk Radio 702. More importantly for me, he is a highly skilled broadcaster with a remarkable intellect, a devilish wit, and a voracious appetite for reading. The result was a well-informed and highly engaging chat that could have gone on for hours. Unfortunately, the punishing dictates of breakfast radio meant that we had to pack as much as possible into 8 minutes. Luckily, we're both seasoned pros. In the pic, David is the distinguished gentleman on the left, I'm the one with the hairy face. You can hear the interview here. [Give it a second or two to load on your browser].
Abstract: The secret to radio's survival sits in the chair behind the studio desk; the challenge is to unlock the talent... Most of the times I have been called in to work with on-air talent, it’s been because their PD (Programme Director) didn’t know what was wrong. Actually, they did, they just didn’t have a word for it. I have found that the biggest challenge for radio station PDs is finding the time to do what they really want to do. Most PDs I know are former presenters or producers. This makes sense as a PD needs to have a deep connection with the product and the means of production. But stepping up into management has advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is the opportunity to make a bigger impact on the output, the disadvantage is having to deal with all the shit that goes with it. Radio PDs are increasingly managing the bigger picture. They’re involved in the
Abstract: a shift in radio is necessary, but the industry is slow to change... There's always a fall-out wherever expressive entertainment crosses paths with corporate economic imperatives, and generally, it's creative integrity that ends up trampled in the dust. This is equally the case in commercial radio. However, a turnaround is on the cards, inspired by the voice, fingers and ears of the listener; and it provides an opportunity for one specific format of radio. The ongoing battle between the BBC and commercial radio for the ears, minds and hearts of the British radio consumer is a fascinating, ongoing struggle between formats. Whereas the local BBC stations mainly offer full-service programming, which is more speech-based, the local commercial stations are driven mostly by music. It is a similar set up here in South Africa, where most commercial radio stations carry mainly music and leave the
Abstract: The programming ethos for most music radio still sits in the 90s... I am constantly intrigued by the prevalence of music formats in radio stations. I am well-aware of the secrets behind their popularity, but I also know they’re built upon an outdated, and increasingly flimsy, premise. I spent over 25 years in radio, most of it in a state of constant anxiety; the reason for this is that I had burned into my brain the inflexible programming maxim of ‘more music, less talk’. As a result, every time I opened my mouth to talk I could hear a metaphorical clock in my head counting down to when I should ‘get back to the music’. And the more I talked, the louder it ticked. I still hear that clock today. When I monitor music-formatted stations I can sense when the presenter is under pressure to ‘get back to the music’, and the result is programming riddled with missed opportunities for effective content. So why
Abstract: Something that fits in your pocket did, and something else in your pocket might bring them back... For some reason the original title was abandoned in favour of Networks killed the radio star, iPods might bring them back. For me this is like going to see The Empire Strikes Back and the guy in front of you telling you that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker's father. Quick...name me ten top stars of South African radio. I'm not surprised if you're battling a bit, although I should be. Johannesburg has more radio stations with more money being thrown at them than any other city in this country. Most of the so-called big name radio personalities are on Johannesburg-based radio stations. So we should all know who they are. But we don't, and the reason why we don't fits into your pocket. It's money. Over the past
Abstract: the biggest challenge to radio as we know it is here in the palm of our hands. As far back as June 2006, I prophesied in my column in the Saturday Star that commercial radio was about to be revolutionised by a small device that fits into the palm of your hand. I was right, albeit a little conservative in my analysis. This device has indeed brought about dramatic changes, but to the extent that traditional radio as you and I know it could very soon be over. The device is the iPod and its family, which, since my column has now grown to incorporate the iTouch and the iPhone. They are, as you know, personal music players, but the latter two, and their imitators are the ones that really threaten the traditional role of the commercial radio station. For what is going to