It is not often one is afforded the opportunity or platform to delve so deeply into one’s passion as is the case presented to me through this platform.
My relationship with radio spans many years both as a listener and as a broadcaster. From the days listening to radio dramas as a child, to today hosting a weekly current affairs show, radio remains a part of my life.
What has remained constant over the years is the fact that the medium that is radio is a constant companion for the listener. Outside of those around you, it is radio that keeps you company as you wake up, work, drive or relax. Whether you seek the latest in news or a moment to unwind through music, radio has always been there.
Unlike other platforms such as print, social media or television, radio is that one media platform where the relationship between the person on air and the listener is personal. It’s only through radio that one-on-one relationships are constantly built and real-time connections are made and maintained between the broadcaster and listener.
It was the radio dramas while growing up that brought families together, where like communal fires in a village, the radio was a place of gathering. It is during those evening broadcasts where the family would be engrossed in the drama unfolding, leading to the endless reflections and speculation on what next to expect in the story line.
Today it is the music played, content shared, topics discussed and execution of promotional campaigns that keeps listener attention and builds loyalty. Considering the increase in the number of radio stations over the years as well as the growth of other platforms such as online and social media, the fight for audiences is constant and unrelenting.
With the various media options one has to choose from, it is the personal connection found through radio that makes it more real. It is this aspect of the medium that I find most appealing where one is able to reach one person at any given moment. That is the point of radio as far as I’m concerned, to be able to reach that one person.
It was my mentor and father in radio, the late Zane Ibrahim of Bush Radio, who taught me that radio is about being real. It is about remembering that a person is listening and you have the responsibility of treating that person with respect both in what you say and in terms of advertising or promotion, what you create.
This edition of Radio Debrief focuses on this important aspect or radio, the personal, the real connection. We reflect on this year’s RAB Radioworks conference in Cape Town and Johannesburg – sadly, the last, as the organisation is winding down this month after the SABC withdrew citing ‘cost-cutting’ as the reason – where the focus was on how to reignite the passion for radio, under the theme “real personal”.
Speakers at the Cape Town conference which I attended, included among others RAB UK’s Michael Tull, “developer of great people” Graeme Butchart, Nedbank’s Sydney Mbhele and FCB SA’s Jonathan Deeb.
While the gathering was primarily geared for the advertising and sales heads, as a presenter and a general radio head, I drew a lot from the content shared. Looking around the room I realised how unfortunate it was that there were no other presenters in the room.
The way I see it, remaining relevant in radio does not only apply to trade but also to those who are on air. Some would argue that it is even more important for presenters as the “entry point” for listeners of any radio stations.
I would want to leave one thought for all of us to reflect on: while we might speak of target markets, segments and demographics, we must not loose sight of the fact that we are still talking to a person and that person is real.
Thank you to sponsor Kaya FM for giving us the opportunity to explore the medium.
IMAGE: Wikimedia. Copyright National Archives and Records Administration
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