“The eyes like novelty, but the ear craves familiarity.” – W.H. Auden
There are certain pleasures in life that are difficult to explain to others. There’s always a certain dish, scent or sound that takes you back to being a kid. For me, it’s beans and potatoes cooking away on the stove. Man, I used to love that smell when I got home from school! I knew that it would taste good, I knew the comfort it would bring me, and I knew that there was something my mom added that no one else did.
I loved it because it was… familiar.
Fast forward to the current day, and we are all looking for the next, best thing. There must always be something better out there, we just haven’t discovered it yet, right? Now don’t get me wrong, being adventurous and broadening your horizons with experiences is critical, in my opinion, but don’t we all long for that feeling of comfort and security every now again? That feeling of being in a trusted space where you know you can take a deep breath, knowing that everything is going to be ok?
Radio has given us the biggest stars in the country (and the world!). Listing them would be an endless exercise, and I’m sure you already have someone in your head anyway. Radio personalities have the amazing capability of connecting with audiences on a deeply personal level. Think about it – when Alex Jay starts a link, you don’t consider that he’s speaking to a million people? It feels like he’s talking to…you. This is no accident, those who do it well have honed their skills and have become legendary because of this.
Having familiar talent as part of your personality mix is critical to getting your message across. When your friend tells you about a new restaurant, there’s a certain level of trust that you’ve built with them, and you would be inclined to believe them.
On the other hand, were a stranger to stop you in the street and tell you the same thing, you would probably do some more investigating before deciding whether to believe them or not. The same principle applies to your marketing message, where a trusted personality has that inherent trust established with the audience. Not only are they able to contextualise and land your message, but they can deliver it in a way that their audience is more likely to trust the message (i.e. your message).
Having said that, young and upcoming talent play a pivotal role in developing the industry. They bring new energy, new ideas, and often challenge the current environment. They often have no legacy blueprint to work off, and that enables us all to drive change and improve on our offering.
The familiar talent can also play a critical role in the development of this talent. They often act as mentors and coaches within the media environment. Recently, I learned that one of our presenters had given some advice to another as a young kid – 16 years ago! It shows the impact that these talent can have on creating a collaborative environment and how they assist in creating the next wave of stars.
Familiar talent plays a critical role in the radio and entertainment environment. They offer listeners a safe space, offer clients a trusted voice, and offer the stations relevance and access to new audiences. Talent sits at the centre of the product, and the importance of talent cannot be understated. We all play a role in building the new wave of familiar talent, and they should continue to receive our support, as they can support your brand in future.
How a radio station handles the lockdown
With radio being an essential service in South Africa, Hennie Myburgh, the programme manager, and Leith Smith, the marketing manager, explain how a commercial radio station as approached the SA COVID-19 lockdown.
Do your presenters still come to work? If not, how do we hear them on air?
Some presenters will broadcast live from the studio, whilst others are broadcasting remotely. Our commitment to our listeners remains that all their favourite presenters will still be on air and that we’ll use all the best technology at our disposal to ensure that our audience and clients receive an uninterrupted product.
How do you decide who can work remotely and who not?
Radio is 24/7 and there would ordinarily already be a lot of remote work, so most of the station is able to work remotely. Remote meetings and project software enable us to keep the business running smoothly.
How do news reports work during this time, with a limited amount of reporters in the field?
The news team will continue to operate as usual and will continue to deliver a class-leading news service in this critical time. Resources are carefully managed to ensure safety and balance within the team.
How does this impact advertising? From the content that gets advertised to the process of getting the ad on air?
Operations are not affected during this time and we are still able to easily record, produce and place adverts on air. We are also in constant discussions with our clients to offer them solutions tailored to their specific needs.
Does the role of non-traditional radio platforms (web, social media etc.) change during this time?
Due to the size of our non-traditional platforms, all of them already enjoy a large amount of focus within Jacaranda FM. We continue to provide entertaining content and pertinent, trusted information to a loyal audience across all channels available to us.
How does a lockdown impact other station activities?
Although the lockdown prevents Jacaranda FM from doing any on the ground activities like Myschool Rocks, Workzone Takeover as well as Straatbraai, this affords us the time to look at our digital platforms and engage with our audiences in innovative and highly impactful ways.
How do you approach meetings?
Meetings are all done remotely on platforms such as Zoom, Skype, Hangouts etc. We also use messaging platforms extensively to ensure that communication is clear and consistent.
What measures do you put in place to keep those at the office, and people who have to visit during this time, safe?
Our employees’ wellbeing is paramount, and we have ensured that everyone is equipped to work remotely. Within the building there are many health and safety measures to ensure the safety of all concerned. We also offer an employee wellness program that employees and their families can access at any time.
What, in a nutshell, is your station’s message / commitment to its listeners at this time?
Our commitment is that Jacaranda FM will continue to provide market-leading content on all of its platforms. It will continue to entertain and inform and will be with you throughout this critical period. We are all going through what our listeners across South Africa, and further afield, are going through, and we understand the importance of having your finger constantly on the pulse, remaining calm and abiding by the rules. Therefore we will ensure that we are available to assist and share experiences in a relevant, entertaining and informative manner.
Hennie Myburgh is the programme manager of Jacaranda FM. With over a decade’s experience in media, he is responsible for the aggregation of audiences across multiple platforms through strategic content creation and curation, coupled with key talent, innovative promotions and strategic music delivery.
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