Christian Hull: Digital Killed the Radio Star?
Back in the ‘80s, The Buggles sang about ‘video killing the radio star’. It was a pretty catchy song, but in the digital age, it’s perhaps more prophetic than we thought.
Digital content has become a priority for broadcasters seeking seek to expand their offering to ‘capture’ those listeners, who’ve grown up in a world of ‘instant demand-instant satisfaction’.
It’s a world being populated by clever and savvy content creators, who seem to have an innate understanding of what will work and what will ‘go viral’.
People like the Hit Network’s Christian Hull, who has moved on from 2Day FM’s breakfast show with Em Rusciano and Harley Breen to become the network’s National Digital Video producer.
He firmly believes adapting to the digital world is the best way for a traditional broadcaster to survive. And thrive.
“A lot of people look at radio now and say ‘oh, we survived, we got through. We made it through the digital space.’”
“But I don’t think the digital revolution has even happened yet. I mean, I don’t think we’re using social media to it’s full capacity. There’s so much more we can do, but we don’t yet know how to do it, if that makes sense.”
“I think SCA is adapting to the changes that are happening. But I also think everything will be OK. Radio will be fine, but it’s going to change how radio is consumed.”
Hull looks back to his own teen years to recognise today’s teenagers are pretty sophisticated in how they seek their entertainment ‘fix’.
“When I was about 13 or 14, we only had radio and TV. The internet wasn’t really a thing at all. I consumed radio and I grew up with it.”
“But then you look at a 13-year-old now, all they do is stuff on their phone. They don’t actually watch TV, they don’t listen to the radio. It’s podcasting, it’s catch up, it’s Netflix, it’s Stan. Everything is on demand now. They can get whatever they want, whenever they want.”
It’s a development that SCA has recognised and responded to – it’s newsrooms now create online content for both the Triple M and Hit Network brands.
The network has also created a video and social team to create content that engages the listener, or probably more accurately, the ‘follower’. But what makes a video go viral? Is there a formula for success?
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“It’s taken me years, but I think I understand what it is. It’s looking at what’s happening around you. You think ‘is that interesting’? You go film it, make a video and then the next minute it’s got a million views.”
“I filmed at Pentridge Prison to make this little documentary-esque thing. I thought ‘oh, it’s probably not going to do that well, but it’s fun’. And it’s become one of the most successful things I’ve done.”
“But you just never know what works. You never know”.
As for his “Trish” videos with their millions of views, likes and shares, Hull likes to keep business and pleasure separate.
But he enjoys the freedom the Trish videos give him and is considering a web series around the character.
“My Trish stuff and my comedy is quite separate from what I do with the Hit Network now. I feel like that I don’t want to do Trish at work and at home. It would bore me.”
“I mean, I look at the work stuff that I do and it’s a lot more professional. Where the Trish stuff is just; I go home, put on a wig and improv.”
In the brave new world that is ‘digital’, SCA and Christian Hull have show that traditional broadcasting is still relevant and can be strengthened by catering for the new breed of users.
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