Holiday Soapbox: 14 free radio ideas for 2014

Staff Writer

Most people spend Boxing Day battling the sales or consuming mass amounts of sports on TV, but me, I drop my wife off at the shopping centre and have a few thoughts over a long black.

I was thinking about how radio could be different in 2014 and the Albert Einstein line “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” came to mind.

If you’ve worked with me before you might recognise some of these from conversations or proposals gone past. They all ended up in the “crazy ideas” bin, so feel free to take them if you like, these ideas are all yours.

Non-stop DJ mixed radio

On B105 this morning (Boxing Day) I heard an amazing DJ-style-mix by one of the most talented people to sit in a production studio in Australia, David Konsky.

A great piece of programming that for a few seconds differentiated it from Nova, 973, Spotify, Pandora, iTunes Radio, 96five and whatever was on DAB.

Now that Nova has replaced Novanation with Coles Radio (is that what happened on Christmas Eve?) why not launch a new radio format in the face of ARN’s CHR attack, a DJ style non-stop mix, that happy and uplifting style of music that you hear on the Surfers Paradise Boulevard on Summer Saturday afternoons.

Heck, just give DJ Goodwill 24 hours a day, he’d rock it! In fact, give half to Konsky, half to Goodwill.

Take the studio outside of the studio

24 hour outside broadcasts. The studio becomes a mixing desk and the program director unplugs the microphone. If someone is on the air talking, then they’re at the “scene of the crime” broadcasting live.

The high horse of the quality broadcasting studio is great, but what if your news guy is live from that crash that just happened for the 2pm bulletin, then one talent is hanging out with the families at that massive local park checking out what they’re doing and making a quick package out of it then your other talent is on a yacht for the Sydney to Hobart, or something absolutely crazy that breaks all the rules of radio but makes it more local than it’s ever been.

One of the rising stars of the 2013 radio industry is Nic Kelly and although he’s a shining star in studio you should see him on the streets. If you gave him a wage, a car, a camera guy, and a producer I think you’d be pleasantly surprised with his airchecks.

Actually interactive radio apps

Radio apps really suck, like they are really bad.

The Fairfax radio apps deliver the station’s content in an above-average manner and the new SCA apps are pretty cool, but they have all missed the mark on one main thing: two-way communication.

If you radio station app doesn’t allow me to send a sound bite of my opinion, a video of that crash that just happened, a “text message” of feedback or to vote on a poll, why does it even exist? I can listen on the hundreds of other radio apps.

Also, the producer that’s producing the show on air right now should be able to put the poll up and receive the soundbite. If an engineer needs to be involved you’re not doing it right.

Ads in-format

I remember reading something about KIIS FM producers going for a drive to hear an advertising spot on air to see how it sounds in-the-mix and on-air. Mind blowing commitment to advert quality.

I don’t know if they do that with every ad but would the Good Guys, Harvey Norman and that guy from National Tiles get a run on a station sounding that good?

Here’s my little challenge: produce adverts in the mind that they’re getting played on a certain station and they sound at home on that station amongst the other ads that all have that same format.

Get with the podcasting times

Two points on podcasting: Get podcasters on your station, get your station on podcasts.

Firstly, there are some amazing podcasters in your very city. In Melbourne hundreds of thousands of people listen to some of the city’s little known comedians on podcast. Even my and Steve’s podcast the “Thing Committee” has been listened to over 350,000 times. Those kind of numbers on commercial radio would warrant ears being raised. But on podcast it’s the normal. Our podcast isn’t even “popular” with those kind of numbers.

Secondly, you’ve got some really talented people in your building and they might not be hosting breakfast. Almost everyone in the station has been behind the mic, or would like to be, so why not workshop some niche shows they could produce on a weekly basis, record in the spare studio and put out on the station website. Imagine the possibilities!

You’ve got the resources and the skills, so why not do it?

Sales need to start working harder

This is a simple point that reflects on a mini survey of my and other small businesses around Brisbane that I catch up with online and over lunch fairly often: no-one from commercial radio has presented a good case, or a case at all, for why we should spend money with them. Not a phone call, email or invitation to hear them out. So I spend thousands of dollars on Google and Facebook advertising plus I create my own content that seems to hit the spot.

But with that said, we’d all like to increase our business traffic and revenue, so if your advertising makes us money, doesn’t cost us money, then we’d love to hear from you some time.

Seriously, who is sales talking to?

Talk radio for “kids these days”

I’m 32, male and I experienced a terrible thing the other day: I ran out of podcasts. All of the podcasts I had subscribed to, I’d listened to the most recent episodes. I was on the way back from Maleny for an afternoon wedding and my rationing of my mobile data had reached that “two days left and 300MB” stage. I had no more speaking left to listen to.

I tuned into the talk stations and those particular presenters on that day felt way out of my care-factor space. They were people who bitched and moaned about “kids these days”.

Here’s a tip: some “kids these days” like to listen to talk radio but we resort to podcasts to listen to our peers because the old fuddies on the radio quite often leave us with a sour taste in our mouth.

Open up the boys club

There was a segment on 4BC Breakfast last year, and for many years previous I assume, where a local identity joined the show every morning and talked about something interesting.

I didn’t grow up in Brisbane but now call it home and I legitimately wanted to know who Obie was and why he had a segment every morning. And I worked there.

Obie’s probably a great bloke but I listened every morning and could never figure out who he was or what he did.

Listeners want to join the boys club, but we’d like an invitation.

Innovation on DAB

The greatest innovations on DAB in 2013 were a re-broadcast of Smooth FM into Brisbane, Fairfax starting a podcast/live sport station and 96five innovating in the Christian music space. There’s probably others, but no-one would know about them, DAB is the sleeping giant that keeps on being fed sleeping tablets.

I challenge someone to do something absolutely crazy on DAB, something that would create talk and lead the charge on DAB receiver sales.

Non stop ad DAB channel

Here’s an idea for a new DAB channel: in the same way TV has gone, start a non-stop advertising channel. Companies can buy air-time and put whatever they want on air. Or maybe it’s non-stop local information that interests a certain demographic. Maybe there’s an opportunity there that no-one has even thought of?

Get celebrity gossip news right

My wife is the prime candidate for everything SCA is trying to do with celeb gossip and the culture surrounding it, but she doesn’t care about it. She does however wake up every morning and before I even get a kiss or a cuddle she’s checking on her mobile.

She doesn’t even check the app, it’s not as good as the website she tells me.

Britt is demographically right in the middle of the B105 target, she even likes radio, we met because she missed my breakfast radio show when I left, but she doesn’t care for Scoopla or anything of that feel on B105.

I don’t know what the answer is, but it’s not whatever is happening right now.

Recycle your radio content

That piece that you spent all day producing for that comedy segment is probably really good. Why can’t that get some airtime later on, over the next 6-12 months, 5-20 times? Package it up and keep it in the can.

Here’s the key though: when you play it back don’t apologise about how it’s something old. Back yourself, just play it with no apologies. If it’s good content then it’s got legs for months.

Resource regional

Regional radio is the poor sister to metro as far as resources go, but when it comes to care-factor, the residents of Mackay rely on Sea FM’s Jay and Dave much much much more than any resident of Brisbane would rely on Spencer Howson. That’s not to take away from Spencer, or anyone else on air in Brisbane, but they just have so many options. A Brisbane resident can go to the Brisbane Times website, the Courier Mail, anyone of the live and local radio and TV stations. Mackay residents have a much smaller media selection for ultra-local news.

Regional radio is just so much more important to its community. Jay and Dave in Mackay, Wayne in Esperance or Glenney in Kalgoorlie are the underrated heroes of their communities and they deserve a pay-rise, extra resources and a promotions budget.

It’s just a damn shame if they don’t get it and end up in real estate like most regional radio superstars do.

Be useful on Facebook

There’s enough memes on Facebook to keep everyone busy for years. Here’s what’s lacking: actual useful information and entertainment.

The greatest void on the Internet today is in original, relevant, relational, quality content.

Yep – what you do on air is missing online. You can connect the dots right?


Feel free share your ideas in the comment section below …..

Read Josh's post on his blog here.

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