Profile or Performance? What really counts in Metro Radio?


Radio Today asked a panel of metro programming experts the question: “In cap cities would you rather have someone with a high profile, with little or no on air experience on Breakfas,t or someone who is experienced on air, sounds great and had no profile“.

Generally, the feedback was that CD’s would take great On-Air performance over profile, but both is best. Here are some thoughts from the experts.

Derek Bargwanna ARN’s KIIS Group CD said:

I’d rather have both profile and they sound great!!!!! But if push came to shove, I’d make a decision based on sound. At the end of the day fans make a decision based on what they sound like. Profile may help attract a listener for a second, but as quick as you get them, you lose them if the sound isn’t right.”

Adrian Brine FOXFM Content Director said:Bottom line, I’m looking for a natural, intelligent performer who is willing to be open and honest on air. For metro specifically, if I was starting a new show from scratch I would lean towards someone with a profile.

If I was adding to an existing show to improve it, I’m simply looking to fill the hole with whatever the show is missing. At the Fox we are using Fev with Fifi and Dave right now. Yes he has a profile in Melbourne, but he’s a warm, natural performer with stories to tell. He ticks both boxes for us right now “

Nova Entertainments Group CD Paul Jackson:

I think in a breakfast team it’s possible to have a mixture of both. If there’s strong chemistry within the team it could be very successful but experience is essential for the lead players in any breakfast show”.

Gemma Fordham SCA’s Hit Network Head of Content says:

“It depends on other factors like other competition in the market – so sometimes it would be about someone who is great but no profile and sometimes it would be someone who has profile and may not be as great but most importantly has potential. I think there is merit in both”.

Duncan Campbell ARN Group Content Director said:

The ideal is of course for the talent to be high profile and have radio experience and sound good on the  air. However, if I had to choose I would go with someone who is experienced and sounds great on the air but is not high profile. The key would then be to build profile quickly through show tactics and marketing”.

SCA’s Head of National Content and Development Dave Cameron:

“I would rather take someone of significant public interest, and teach them radio semantics. I think that’s very different to someone just with profile that doesn’t necessarily have the interest factor for listeners. Would I rather have Hugh Jackman than an unknown that’s awesome on air? Yes”.

Nova Content Director/ General Manager Jay Walkerden

It really comes down to the chemistry in the team. I have had experience in having big profile people in a show but them just not  connecting with an audience or a co-host. No matter how big the name if you don’t have chemistry amongst the players it isn’t going to work. The same can be said for some with no experience. Having a big profile player in the show can draw instant attention to the show and encourage sampling but the long game has to be content and chemistry”.

Former 2DAYFM CD and now Head of Music for Hit Network Irene Hulme: “In small metro markets, a great communicator over profile any day supported with marketing. For Sydney and Melbourne profile is critical, having a familiar face on gets the audience in, then of course it does come down to content and I think your options here are wide, is it a supporting cast of experienced radio broadcasters with strong marketing, digital etc if it’s a long term plan then I would definitely choose strong broadcasters first and foremost”.

Mike FitzpatrickTriple M Network CD: I don’t believe there is a hard and fast rule here. Often, someone with a high profile, if talented, can be taught radio craft. A high profile counts for nothing if there’s no understanding of craft or performance.

It’ll just buy you some sampling at the start. However a high profile talent can work in a team where there is already great chemistry to prop them up and for them to learn from.

In the end, profile or no profile, their real talent and capacity to learn is what matters”.

Sam Thompson ARN’s Melbourne Content Director:

Both is obviously best – however would definitely want the strongest on air. We can build profile – which starts with their connection with the audience. Get that right and the rest will follow”.

Mathew Eggleston Hit105’s Content Director: “Ideally both, talent is the cake and profile the cream on top.

I would always go talent over profile but it all depends on what is needed to complete the team. If you have a very good operator that knows the business of breakfast radio and you need to add profile and this person was showing massive potential, then that would be a great option. If it was an inexperienced team then you’d go with the performance over profile”.

Former SCA Programmer and now ESP Managing Director Brian Ford said: “In today’s market I would take high profile every day of the week. Provided they have an ‘X Factor’ that works on radio, connects and makes people gravitate towards them. Pair them with experience on air, and surround them with a great Content Director and Producer. With daily guidance and flying hours, they will get what works”.

Triple M Content Director David Rymer “Performance far outweighs profile as great performance will ultimately feed profile if managed correctly. Investing in a great talent right from the start and coaching that talent to success opens up a world of opportunity to evolve that talents’ brand. Ultimately profile is the fortuitous  by product of outstanding performance.”

Charlie Fox Content Director of ARN’s WSFM and The Edge said: “Profile makes no difference at all!  No one gives a rat’s arse if you’re a big TV star, comedian if you can’t deliver compelling content and be relatable to your listening audience.

It’ll typically get you a 3 share.The biggest radio stars come from radio – end of story.

Have a think about how many ‘High Profile’ shows have been & gone in the last 10 years or so in Sydney alone, while Kyle & Jackie and Jonesy & Amanda have dominated ratings.

“All these radio stars started out as nobodies, but they started in radio, that was their passion. I would rather start with unknowns that I believe have talent and chemistry because they will grow with the audience.”

Profile or performance? Both is best. The performance On-Air is what’s going to win or lose listeners and ratings at the end of the day.

Radio talent can build profile through social media, television appearances, live appearances and MOST IMPORTANTLY via their daily On-Air performance, On-Air promo’s and word of mouth.

Don’t under estimate word of mouth, listeners talk about what on air talent say on air. That’s powerful marketing and builds profile. What you do and say on air is PROFILE BUILDING.

Profile is important but at the end of the day your content is what’s going to take you to the next level or take you to the top.

Brad March is Managing Director of Connected Management – He is a Director of Radio Today, and is a former CEO and Group Program Director of Austereo and ARN.

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