Silo Radio (sorting the wheat from the chaff)

Staff Writer

Every now and then I hear something on the radio that motivates me to yell, swear and then move on with my life. Then there are the moments like recently when even after going through my usual regime, I needed more. I needed to write this bloody article – because enough is enough.

Last time I was exasperated by the total lack of interviewing skills of a highly paid city broadcaster. Too busy worrying about how clever he sounded, and how knowledgeable he was, to actually listen to the person he was interviewing. Again my dander is up because of the inability or desire to listen. This time the culprit was guilty of not listening to his own station. Sadly, like people who fail to indicate when turning on the roads, he is not the only one.

Here is the scenario. I am driving along listening to Fox FM in Melbourne, a music station, it is news time, so while news is not their strong suit I chose to hang in and listen.  Personal disclaimer here, the newsreader was my wife- Sarah Patterson. That though is actually irrelevant to what happened next.

The lead story was a celebrity meltdown which fitted the station perfectly. Chris Brown was involved in some bizarre antics which caused police to be called to his house. Wow I thought, the Bondi Vet has lost his marbles. Weeks in the jungle with Julia Morris would do that to a man, until I listened to discover it was the American R&B artist, not our own chisel chinned jungle boy. The wife was sounding good and navigated her way skillfully and professionally through the rest of the news. Time to hear some doof doof music. No No No not so fast .The jock then came on and preceded to basically repeat every detail that had just been given in the news re the Chris Brown situation. Rather than a well crafted succinct microwave version of events as in “As you just heard in our news… we will keep you updated but now here is Justin Bieber” he just went on and on, regurgitating what I had just been told. This is just one instance of what I call SILO radio.

Everyone is churning out their own grain, in their own office, which is side by side with everyone else, but you don’t have to venture outside your silo. You can maintain the code of silo-ence and still get the job done.

It is classic left hand does not only not know what the right hand is doing, but does not care enough about the listener to have a plan b. If he already had that rave worked out for the top of the hour, it would have been smart to check with the newsroom what they were running. The story had been on the go for a few hours.

How many times do you hear a station talk about something, then go straight into a promo for the very same thing, and unfortunately sometimes the information is not the same?

The reason this happens is that listening inside radio stations is not as important as it should be. Presenters should know what is in the news and vice versa. If program has an update coming it sounds great for news to say “ Fox’s Billy Smith is in LA and will be updating the Chris Brown situation in 20 minutes with Jody Jock”  Then there is the classic mispronunciation of a name or place. This mostly happens in sport stories and when interstate readers are grappling with suburbs like Berwick, Indooropilly, Inala, Minto or Keswick. When the same mistake gets repeated because no one heard it, you can bet the ears of social media will be on full alert. That should not be our alarm system.

You can’t expect to hear every second of programming, but a white board with the guest the various shows have had on, or are having on, is essential information. Given everything winds up on a podcast or on the station website or facebook, it is all promotion for what your station does. Take credit, it is another reason for listeners to be frightened that they might miss something if they don’t tune in. If they did miss it hey presto hear it online.

For me it was a sad day when every show got its own office and the famous jocks room was no longer. That was the start of SILO Radio and no one has done anything to break down those walls ever since.

About The Author:

Kevin Hillier has been behind the Microphone for 43 years. Starting 1973 at 4LG, then 4IP Brisbane number one nights, Melbourne radio since 1982-  3XY, Fox, Triple M  all number one shows in drive and breakfast  Currently heard on 1116 SEN hosting sports programs.He’s also a writer and author and passionate about his footy with a couple of books under his belt.

Kevin is also a well-known voiceover artist around Australia and owns his own company Howdy Partners Media with his wife Sarah Patterson.

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