Rod Lucas, founder of The Radio School (UK) with over 45 years professional radio experience in BBC & Commercial radio, writes about why video hasn't killed the radio star and the need for more radio ga ga.
If radio had arrived after TV and the internet, it probably would have a very different image. "Wow, we've just discovered this thing you can take anywhere and don't have to sit and watch it"
Radio can be used while doing other things and is arguably more portable than TV and laptops. Radio is great for the car, bath and other places where TV & computers are not always practical, mainly because it's fun and exciting with something different happening each day.
Earnings can be excellent if you're able
to gain good audience figures (applies to BBC radio also) but your
main reasons for getting into radio full or part-time should not be
to make millions. It should be because of your love to share your
thoughts, music and views. If the big money comes along, great but
you can still make a good living from radio if you're prepared to
work hard and display creativity and passion from communicating.
Radio is a very personal medium, it offers the ability to talk about
almost anything in a very intimate way to millions of people. You
might be presenting to millions of people, but if you can appear as
if you're talking to 1 person you're heading in the right direction.
Whether presenting or producing music
and talk programmes, just music or all talk, having lots of creative
ability is a big plus. Some stations won't always allow your
"creative ideas" through but having them will be useful for the next
station. Unfortunately a number of stations in the UK are pretty
'tame' and don't show much in the way of being different. This will
change as getting an audience becomes harder. Being able to
understand the public and what makes your chosen audience 'tick' is
very important. Much like politicians, broadcasters need to be 1
step in front of the audience yet remain relevant. Being too many
steps in front, and you'll lose the plot. Being relevant to your
core audience is crucial. In my view, trying to be relevant to all
people is important. If you're a 25 year old presenter, are you able
to frame up to people aged 47, 57 or 14? Male or female listeners
should not be driven away, just because you only talk about things
25 year olds can frame up to.
Radio is a great place to be if you're interested in people and life. Remember you'll need to take a keen interest in modern popular culture, whether you like some elements or not. You'll need to keep abreast of news and current affairs, music and all aspects of popular culture. When you're a broadcaster, the public expect you to know about everything from share prices to lotto numbers, from football to the latest make of mobile phones and cars!
Radio Presenting & Producing, like other parts of show business, has great highs and incredible lows. Having a thick skin helps for all the knocks. When it's good it's good, when it bad it's very bad. You have to take those highs and lows on the chin. Don't believe your own publicity and be yourself, keep those feet firmly on the floor. I know, I've been there in all aspects. If you can't ride the roller-coaster, then go work for a supermarket.
A number of radio people end up doing just that, it's a great leveller. In fact, I think a lot of UK Programme Controllers would be better off working in supermarkets, some have no idea on how to make great radio to attract big audiences. Evidence of this is with thousands of listeners deserting commercial FM and AM radio for BBC Radio and internet stations. So that's why radio needs more bright new talent of all ages, both in music and talk radio. Less "more music variety" a boring phrase heard every where and more personality Radio Ga Ga :) I'm a great believer in personality radio with unique content ready to grab listeners by the ears.
Full or part time, being a Radio Presenter is like no other job. It's fun, interesting, dynamic and for some, can make you very wealthy. Radio is a very good launch pad into TV as well. Many TV personalities and programmes start in the corridors of radio minds. Go for it and remember you only live once. I love radio, it's kept me interested for the past 45 years. In fact for me it gets better and better, there are more job opportunities and can be done either full or part time. Being successful in radio presenting requires, Passion, Personality, Patter, Perseverance and Patience.
Almost forgot, when you're making big dough save some.
Rod Lucas has over 45 years professional radio broadcast experience. (First programme with BBC Radio Medway was at 14) Rod's personal 1 to 1 broadcast training is ideal for beginners or people who want to make a career change into radio broadcasting. He's an impressive record for getting new talent into broadcasting jobs. Rod's worked for BBC Radio 1 & 2, BBC Radio 5, BBC World service, Metro Radio, Capital/Invicta, BBC Radio London, BBC Radio Kent LBC, Talksport & Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (Network Radio & TV)