Reality has nothing to do with ‘real’

Whenever a new Breakfast show in a metropolitan or major regional market is announced there tends to be one of three reactions. 
The first is those who are supportive “these guys are awesome, the show will rock”;
The second the doubters “never rated these guys and I don’t know what XYZ programmer sees in them”;


The third is the critic of part of the casting “I love X, but surely they could have found someone better than Y”.

That is, unless there is an ex reality TV show person cast in a Breakfast show, in which case the reaction generally goes along consistent lines: 



reality shows like this (and The Block etc) are a real slap in the face for those in the that have been working their asses off hoping one day to get a Cap City gig of their own. I think those in the industry first should be first preference for a step up and not someone looking for fame after appearing on a tv show for a few months. This is pathetic….


How about hiring someone who has actual on air commercial radio experience… instead of just another reality tv show reject. Give it a month…


Does years of gathering content working with what you have and connecting with your audience mean anything in the metro world anymore or is it deemed too risky to take a chance on a unknown?

  Sick of those 5 minute reality tv nobodies who think they can leap frog over those who have done the rounds and paid their radio dues.

it’s a smack in the face from metro stations to anyone who’s been working for years to get up the chain, only to have the gigs given to someone from a reality contest.


If you want to pick a brekky show lineup from a reality show, make your own reality radio show where the audience get to vote for auditioning talent. That way someone deserving who has done their time might have the shot that’s rightfully theirs.


The theme is always clear and consistent. And I understand why.

Great Breakfast opportunities are hard to come by, and highly desired, and there is talent in many markets who work hard for a long time to get their big break. Given that, it is understandable they might be disappointed when they perceive someone has swooped in without ‘earning their dues’ to obtain a coveted role.

However understandable the disappointment is, it is an emotional response rather than a rational one.

And it has been top of mind, as my wife is a self-confessed ‘Block-a-Holic’, thus over the past couple of months I have watched more episodes than I care to admit of The Block, and have again been impressed with the casting.

Contrary to the name of the genre, Reality TV does not feature ‘real people’. It features people who have been through a rigid, and finely-honed casting process.

That’s how The Block (last year) found characters like Dale (left), or like Alisa and Lysandra.

It’s how Big Brother found Fitzy and Chrissie Swan.

It’s why The Block has a deeply religious couple this year, and a couple of ratbaggy, good-looking brothers as part of the cast. 

It’s why Big Brother always has the bimbo, the villain, the gay guy, the nerd and so on.

There’s nothing ‘real’ about it, they are cast for their personality, their potential to cause conflict (or to solve it), how well they will engage the viewer in whatever form, and for how their story or situation will ‘fit’ with the other contestants and offer contrast and colour.

People like Fitzy (N969), Nathan Morris (N937), Chrissie Swan (Mix Melb) or Dani Pola (Sea Central Coast) did not get radio roles because of their time on a reality TV show; rather they were cast on a reality TV show because they had many of the personality and performance attributes that are well suited to a Breakfast Show.

And we’re talking small numbers. 

The vast majority of people who end up on Breakfast shows do not come from a reality television background. Equally, the vast majority of people who are on reality shows do not end up on Breakfast Shows. 

I have been involved in putting dozens of Breakfast shows together, and thinking over them, I can count 3 people I have hired who were coming out of a show like that. 


Given the intensity and robustness of the casting process, reality TV shows are no more or less a bona-fide pathway into a Breakfast Show for some brands (particularly contemporary ones) as talent coming through regional, standup or a development show.

Generally the casting process will mean there may be 1 or 2 talented people with radio potential who come out the other end; with the vast majority being completely unsuited to a radio career.

And at some point, there will be another ex-reality TV star get a Breakfast gig in a metropolitan or major regional market, and the criticism will reignite.

However to criticise fails to appreciate that an appointment to a Breakfast role of somebody from that background will be a well-considered, well-cast decision that generally is not because they may be ‘well-known’ but because they actually have some talent and potential.

If you have a focus on ensuring your listeners relate to you and your content, if you find yourself the right mentor(s), if you are disciplined enough to alway be a ‘student’ of the craft, if you’re in a great environment (or can learn form the one that you’re in), if you put in the hard yards, if you’re a person that people (and programmers) want to work with, and if you are exceptionally talented then opportunities will present themselves.


Dan Bradley is Executive Director of Kaizen Media; a boutique international radio consulting and artist management company, working with radio stations, media talent and music artists.

You can contact Dan here.



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