Seven ways radio is much better for announcers now than it was last century

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a positive “glass half full” kind of guy. But do you know what pisses me off?

People who are no longer working in the industry, constantly bitching about how much better radio was when they were “jocking in the 80’s and 90’s.”

You know who I’m talking about? YOU may even be one of these people!

Do you recognise any of these statements?

“Back in our day we used to blah, blah blah…..”

“Radio had more personality when I was cha cha cha…”

“We made live edgy, creative, ground-breaking radio wah wah wah…”

“And there was none of this networking or automation whaddy whaddy wha…”

My name is Sean Craig Murphy.

There aren’t many things I’m qualified at giving an expert opinion on, but this could be one of them.

My career started in the 80’s.

It peaked* in the nineties and naughties when I was doing minimum hours for maximum money and partying way too hard. *Interesting use of the word peaked.

(How I didn’t get sacked is beyond comprehension. In fact, come to think of it maybe I did, but I just don’t remember it.)

These days I’m a daytime announcer at Triple M Adelaide. I work 40 hours a week as opposed to 14. And I make less money than I did at my peak. (there’s that word again!)

But you know what, I can honestly say, life as a radio announcer is way better now than it was last century.

Let me countdown thy ways.

7. You don’t need to have a clichéd ballsy voice to succeed anymore

These days it’s all about, *buzzword alert* AUTHENTIC and interesting voices with real personality. Turn the radio on any day and you’ll hear Fitzy being everyone’s favourite bogan, Em Rusciano camping it up and Smallzy representing the squeakier end of the spectrum.

Gone are the days you have to sound like John Laws or Sandra Sully to win.

6. It’s easier to be a national or global star

Thanks to social media, podcasting and smart phones you can go viral with a video or have an international following with a podcast. The internet and live streaming of radio also means more widespread recognition of your work no matter what station you’re working at.

5. There’s many more entrance level brekky jobs

At a minimum, there’s twice as many radio stations now as there were when I first started. Sure, lots of them network some daytime shifts, but most of the regional radio stations have local AM and FM brekky shows and a fair swathe of those are two-person teams.

4. No more f***ing “Art of War” by Sun Tzu

Google it if you’re a millennial. For programmers in the 90’s this was their bible and if you were an announcer that didn’t fit in this warrior mould you were doomed or ostracised. Thankfully modern radio attracts and embraces all different types of personalities.

3. It’s healthier being a jock this century

Can you imagine sitting in a small room full of cigarette smoke for 6 hours in a row? The answer is probably YES if you’re over 40 and NO if you’re under that age. Trust me it’s fucking disgusting. And we haven’t even mentioned the loose attitudes to drugs and booze that caused breakdowns and breakups.

2. Technology makes your job easier and your content superior

When I first started, a razor blade was a DJ’s best friend. (Splicing. Not chopping.) Now you have a bank of touchscreens, on-air production capabilities that shit all over what actual producers had in the 80’s and a couple of little things called the internet and social media.

1. There’s infinite more ways to demonstrate your creativity

Got a great idea? In the 80’s and 90’s, if you were a music jock, you turned that great idea into a great talk break. And ahh….well, that was pretty much it.

Now you can repurpose the shit out of that mother. It’s a Facebook post. It’s a video. It’s an exponential, integrated digial campaign. It’s a blog. It’s a vlog. I’m a flog.

And we haven’t even started on podcasting.

Radio is now a hungry multi-platform creative beast. It needs radio announcers to feed it.

Disclaimer: My radio heroes are all from the eighties and nineties. (D-Gen, Jon Peters, Bill Weaver etc.). And I had a really great time in radio last century.

Vent. Over.

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Recent comments (8)
ex ABC
11 Oct 2017 - 11:07 am

Sandra Sully – “ballsy”?

Dave Smith
11 Oct 2017 - 11:10 am

Spot On Sean Craig Murphy!
As a lecturer with RTI & AFTRS teaching the next wave of radio’s biggest and brightest new talent at various levels, I couldn’t agree more. I love the diversity of people that want to be apart of such an exciting industry, They hear much more natural everyday people on the air today and know that if they apply themselves they too can find their place in the media landscape. And they don’t have to be a comedian or reality T.V star to do it because They don’t have to be in a breakfast or drive show as with hard work, creativity, passion and a desire to make an emotional connection they can achieve success by becoming entertaining music jocks and creating great music shows. I miss real radio every day and I occasionally wonder what extra fun I could have had with that little thing called the internet back in the ancient early days of my radio career! It would be amazing to be starting that journey today. Lucky Bastards!

11 Oct 2017 - 9:42 pm

Moot Points.
Back in our day we used to get free CD’s and KFC!

George Gibson
13 Oct 2017 - 9:42 pm

Not having lived through those “good old days” you wouldn’t know what it was like to be an announcer without the modern cons of this era. There is no romance in radio in these days compared with the 60s and 70s when we did we did everything eg playing recorded commercials and discs rather than having everything on computer. You cannot compare today with yesteryear if you haven’t lived it. So to say today’s announcers are better, that’s bs. Today you don’t have to have talent to be a radio star. Just be a name and you’re in like Flynn. I worked for 45 years from the country to the city (2RE,2SM,2KY and 2UE plus 2GB and 2CH) plus in Canada so I know what I’m talking about.
George Gibson

Sean Craig Murphy
15 Oct 2017 - 8:37 pm

George. Thanks for reading the article. I’m not sure how closely you read it though. If you did truly read it properly you would’ve seen that I did indeed live through radio when it didn’t have mod cons. Carts, records, reel to reels etc. (I’ve been in radio for 4 decades). I never said radio announcers are better now than they were in the 70s and 80s. I simply pointed out 7 ways that life was better for radio announcers now than it was when you and I first started. The article was just to give the topic some much needed balance. Like most things in life radio has changed dramatically over the decades. There’s nothing wrong with being nostalgic about the good old days, but I think in fairness we should appreciate the skill set needed to be successful these days…. and believe me it’s not just having a TV profile.

Media Buyer..
18 Oct 2017 - 4:29 pm

I hear you George, forget this modern radio crap they were making 35 years ago, how good was the romance of radio back in 1896?

Fyona Smith
19 Oct 2017 - 6:42 pm

Nailed it Sean! All true. There’s excellent opportunities in industry for Australia’s next generation . I particularly enjoyed point 4 “No more f***ing “Art of War” by Sun Tzu”. Made me laugh out loud.

Max C.
20 Oct 2017 - 7:33 pm

I think the article is pretty much true although I don’t really see it as better or worse , rather’ its just what is happening at any point in time. What has not changed is the rollercoaster nature of the business, and its therefore likely that nearly everyone in it will have at least some time to reflect . The effect of technology and especially social media has redefined the standards of broadcast and publishing so radio has adapted to that better than most. Its still there , and thats something in todays media climate.

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