Social networking sites Twitter and Facebook are for idiots and kills quality radio. This was the vehement argument from media analyst Mark Gillman at the recent RadioWorks 2011 conference. The Radio Advertising Bureau ran the conference in Cape Town and Johannesburg in early September.
Gillman is a former DJ on national South African radio station, 5FM. He currently works in the United Kingdom as head of TMGS Creative http://tmgscreative.com/home/ which specialises in brand programme technology.
Gillman’s entertaining conference presentation called for a ban on promoting social media via radio stations and a rebirth of quality radio programming.
“We have become very preoccupied with Twitter. It won’t take long before everyone says ‘I ain’t touching that thing. It’s for idiots’. Turn Twitter on and see what people are saying. It’s like a voice box for monkeys,” he said.
“We have lost the ability to talk to each other… France has banned its radio stations from mentioning Facebook and Google. Why the hell would you promote someone else’s media? Send your audience someone else? That bothers me, that radio stations are doing that.”
Gillman lamented that radio stations were sending audiences to interact with social media instead of making and producing excellent radio stations to retain listeners.
“People used to meet at the radio station. There’s no two ways about it. So many of us grew up with the radio station as a guide on how to be cool. I grew up with radio that was pure feeling. It produced a feeling that said, ‘There’s more to life than your sad life’. Why would you not want that?” he asked.
“Why are we all promoting Facebook? You’re killing the thing that pays your salary,” he told an audience of mostly radio programme staffers.
“Listeners have gone to Facebook because radio is atrocious. Radios stations won’t answer the phone and talk to the audience anymore. Now they want you to text them. Or worse, they want you to Facebook them. We need to make better programming.”
Gillman also played examples of what he thought made for intriguing radio programming that would pull in audiences. He played a radio clip of an impersonation of deceased singer Elvis Presley.
“Elvis is back. Instead of Elvis has left the building, Elvis is in the building. And he is alive. I am prepared to swap blood and semen to prove that Elvis is alive,” Gillman told his audience.
“He is alive because by the end of this you will believe that this guy is Elvis because he is so good… That is part of the success of radio shows. They think very cleverly and generally way beyond the ability of their audiences.
“But if they don’t do that then they sound like some of the radio stations that I have heard in this town. They broadcast to the lowest common denominator. And that’s very sad. It’s very important that you always try to outsmart your audience. People love to play. They love the challenge.”
Gillman warned though that radio should not discard its entertaining role.
“We are not here to save the world. We are just here to make our lives feel better,” he quipped.
“Have a bit of fun. Get someone to pay you to have fun. That’s why radio has advertising and promotions.”