Tomorrow’s radio stars ‘will have to earn it’

Former Editor & Content Director

The days of radio talent succeeding by default are gone, lazy radio is out, and up-and-coming stars will succeed based on merit, not luck.

This is according to David Lloyd, a radio broadcasting and podcasting consultant who spent time as the MD of Chrysalis Radio, the group program and marketing director of Virgin Radio and Absolute Radio, and as content and operations director at Orion Media.

“You used to be able to become a big name in radio purely by getting a gig on a big station with a big aerial. I mean, that was as complicated as it got,” he said on a Global Radio Ideas webinar about what tomorrow’s listeners will want. “Some of those performers on those brands as we well know were Earth-shatteringly good, and others weren’t – they just happened to be on a big radio station… They were lucky.

“I think now it’s much more meritocratic, and you have to earn your place in the media world. You no longer just get a single gig and you’re made. So we have to earn our place, and find our reputation, market ourselves well and get known. But I think the future will be owned by the biggest brands and the biggest personalities.”

Echoing sentiments from GOLD104.3’s Melbourne Breakfast host Christian O’Connell – who said there’s a lot of “lazy” radio up and down the dial which speaks down to its dwindling audience – Lloyd said radio’s reckoning is coming.

“Lazy radio will be out. I can tell you that. People who don’t know what they are doing, who do not focus on delivering the best possible audio entertainment, they will fail. They will no longer get an audience by default. They will have to earn it,” he said.

Lloyd (pictured) said radio stars in the future won’t be as ‘famous’ as their predecessors 

Talent working in radio, he added, likely won’t gain the fame and acclaim of years gone by, but they will still be able to find an audience and deliver for them.

“It’s about being a real human being on the radio. It’s about human connection. You’ve got to like the person on the radio. You wouldn’t spend three hours a day with somebody you dislike, so you’ve got to like them, haven’t you?… You have to feel you know them.”

This connection is what will help radio survive as audiences fracture, he said.

“Many people say ‘How are we going to win the battle against music streaming? How are we going to win the battle against podcasting?’ And I’ve always been a believer in saying ‘It’s just stuff. It’s just stuff that goes in people’s ears,” he said.

“So we know that music streaming is going to be a popular option for many people. And so how can radio actually continue to provide something useful? And it is that personality. It is that curation of music. It is that feel-good. Radio, whenever you do audience research about radio, the most popular response is because ‘I listen because it fills the room. It’s a friend. It makes me feel better’.

“So the contribution a presenter can make, and that may just be 15 words, but there’s a right 15 words to make that music sound better than one generated by an algorithm.”

There’s an incredible power in short words, he said, and not just filling the void between songs.

“If we are good at that, then radio will continue to thrive,” he said. “Just making what you contribute, enhance, the icing on the cake of those great songs, and also the value of the human being in the other formats will be the curation. Someone to introduce me to the songs… To make me feel like I could do nothing better with the next three minutes of my life, or three and a half minutes, than listen to the next song.

“So there’s all these things that as radio practitioners we have to make sure we excel at to continue to attract audiences to our particular sort of audio entertainment.”

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27 Oct 2020 - 6:41 pm

I disagree with this. In this industry it’s not about talent, it’s about who you know and being in the right place at the right time.

Brendan Jones
27 Oct 2020 - 8:29 pm

It was nice to stumble on this article! I’d say this has been happening since I started in this business some 30 years ago. I never got into radio for fame, or even money, I just loved it and I still do. The thing now is, there’s just more competition, whether it’s “old mate” with his/her podcast, or the latest MAF’s reject searching for Instagram fame and that’s all on top of the multitudinous radio stations that you compete with already. There still is a place for radio and if you love it, and can adapt to the ever changing landscape then you’ll be peachy pie.


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