What make a good radio journo?
What is it about a particular journo that makes them stand out from the herd? I’ve been asked it a lot and it has me thinking.
20 or even 10 years ago, I would have quickly answered that it was an ability to write concisely, an ability to listen and an interest in the world around you. Couple that with the ability to broadcast and you had the makings of a great radio journo.
But in the brave new world of digital media, there’s so much more to it. It’s exciting and challenging at the same time.
Newsrooms have been merged and downsized in the years since I first started my radio journey. Where once there was a news team in every station, we now have duopolies and the ‘hubbing’ of news.
The radio journo of today is doing more with less time to do it. But the thing is, they’re probably not even giving it a second thought. It’s just what they do and on the whole, they do it very, very well.
They’re writing local content and recording bulletins for multiple markets. They’re managing the newsroom Twitter or Facebook accounts. They’re trawling the internet for that killer bit of content or audio that will resonate with the target audience.
On the road, and with a mic shoved under someone’s nose, they’re brand ambassadors for the station(s).
It’s easy to take them for granted. Radio journos generally only come to the attention of those further up the food chain, when something goes horribly wrong on air or someone fires off a makes a complaint.
So, what makes a modern day radio journo a cut above the rest?
I’ve had the good fortune to work across the Melbourne market over the past few months, while also teaching journalism to some extraordinary journos-in-training. They’re tech-savvy and having access to the internet and social media 24-7, many of them have a good eye for what makes interesting news. And they’re using technology to find that new angle or contact.
Having said that, adopting the skills set of older colleagues will enable the modern day journo to stand out from the rest.
- It’s all very well to find that great audio, but the impact is wasted if there’s a three par intro of waffle. Good writing means good broadcasting.
- It’s all very well to score that great interview or even an ‘exclusive’, but it means nothing if you don’t listen to the answers and phrase the next question accordingly.
- It’s all very well to have access to the internet and social media, if you don’t read and absorb information. Just skimming newspapers/magazines/news websites will not mean longevity in this industry.
It’s an exciting time to be a radio journalist, regardless of the hours and the demands placed on us. The 50s and 60s maybe considered the ‘golden age’ of radio, but it’s a lot more fun to be doing it now.
Nikole Gunn has 20+ years in radio and is the former DMG Melbourne news director.