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Every on-air presenter you let go takes a piece of your future with them

Hello Mr/Mrs Radio Station Manager. You see the DJ sitting in that studio over there? Well he or she is, with every word, building their personal brand on the back of your station's reach.
It doesn't matter if every word is an over annunciated, mispronounced song title or time check. In fact, they've become that way because they aren't really being paid enough to generate great radio. They're being paid just enough to pitch up and build their own personal kingdom on the back of your station's reach because, let's face it, they get paid more gigging, appearing and MC'ing. They get those gigs because they're building their following on the back of your station's reach.

© On-Air -

Social media audience

I know, that's how it is. There's an understanding: you pay them less and they get benefits from the megaphone that is radio. They build enormous social media followings on Facebook and Twitter too don't they? And when they walk out the door at the end of a show those followings go with them, to their appearances, to their dinners and to their bedside table when they go to sleep at night.

So what happens when they walk out that door for good? Those social media audiences go with them. But it's only digital audiences. It's not like they're taking your FM audiences with them, so there's nothing to worry about because the next DJ that comes along to fill the slot will begin to cultivate and build a mass following anew on the back of building their own brand on the back of your station's reach on the back of radio being a megaphone.

And then, one day, like property in America, the megaphone bubble that is radio will burst. Don't get me wrong, people will always be listening - they'll just be doing it on something other than FM and suddenly the megaphone's batteries will lose power. When that day comes, your station's back may break and so may its traditional FM reach and if you've done nothing to plug the digital dam wall holes through which your digital audiences are currently leaking like water, well then you'll be holding onto those last few DJs with white knuckles won't you?

The bubble will burst

Don't be surprised if the DJs that leave are one day sitting in the corporate journalism rooms of self-publishing brands, who have paid them executive communications salaries for them to continue broadcasting to the swathes of social media audiences they once built on the back of your radio station's reach.

Forewarned is forearmed. The bubble will burst. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But it will one day and if you have not prepared you will be left wondering, like the newspaper industry what you could have done to make it different.

If I were you I'd start with an audit of your total digital reach and then decide from there how to future proof this part of your business.

About Travis Bussiahn

Travis Bussiahn is the Executive Creative Director of the Happy Media Video Agency. He solves creative and business problems for both Happy Media and its clients. He understands the importance of emotional connection in content, branded or otherwise and believes in traditional media's ability to be blended with new media to profound and holistic effect. He loves and excels at concept and the art of story. Contact details: website | Twitter @TravisBussiahn
annette gamble
Radio is the slave trade of our time.Passionate and excellent presenters are perhaps paid R10 per hour or they have to work as volenteers. Their audience does not know that perhaps they had to borrow money for transport that day.It seems so glam and a good presenter will uphold that image even when they don't know how they will come to work tomorrow. Being a good presenter is in your soul!Taking another job is tricky as your program might change and Radio comes first in your life, so you push other menial jobs aside hoping, hoping for your break! You have no security and you are flying on a wing and a prayer.Government instituted Community Radio as a platform for bigger things.This hardly ever happens.You build your audience and the comments from your audience is what keeps you going. Support from government is limited. Advertising is not great in smaller stations as advertisers see the station as a community thing that they don't quite understand. You are lucky if you take home R2000pm if you are not a volunteer!Meanwhile, you are the cheerfull voice at 06h00 or 02h00!No wonder presenters are DOING IT FOR THEMSELVES!It is time that Government look into this- our professional and always cheerful SHAME.
Posted on 31 May 2014 20:49
Peter Blasto
Radio presenters are creatives who find themselves in a similar position as musicians/artists. They are contractors whose spotlight bubble is usually short lived and tomorrow is not guaranteed. Those who are fortunate enough to make it big find themselves in an unfamiliar position of running a small business with themselves as the product or service. I could not help but connect Travis's case to that of Gareth Cliff's, and that is a true case of managing brand presenter and sustaining it outside of the radio station. Yes government should step in, but we are a long way as a country to have enough radio stations that will to start accommodate even a fifth of SA talent out there. The presenter must be more business savvy. As for the radio stations Travis, i agree with you, they ought to step up their marketing game and ride the digital wave while it has momentum. Perhaps also look into connecting more with the presenter to expand their reach and digital is a gateway to that connection. Nice one Travis!- Peter Blasto Sibeko @Peterblasto
Posted on 31 May 2014 23:01

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