Much of today’s radio audience is not like those who listened in the past. “They have a short attention span, they’re multitasking while listening, so they don’t give us their full attention.” That’s the conclusion of Valerie Geller, media consultant and author of four books about radio. Her next publication, BEYOND POWERFUL RADIO – A Communicator’s Guide to the Internet Age: News, Talk, Information & Personality – Broadcasting, Podcasting, Internet and Radio is set to be released in March.
As Geller notes, much has changed in the media landscape, but the fundamentals remain the same. “Tell the truth, make it matter and never be boring.”
To thrive in this new environment, she adds, personalities need to think visually, paint word pictures and become powerful storytellers. They need to take risks , and dare to be great. It is also important to experiment with formats, topics and presentations.
Geller disagrees strongly with the popular notion that there is a lack of available air talent. “Talent is everywhere, just watch YouTube, read a newsblog or listen to some of the online streams. There are thousands of people just waiting to be discovered.” She adds that many program directors need to do a better job of utilizing these resources to recruit and nurture new talent.
Two personality types need to come together to make great radio, according to Geller, generators and reactors. “A generator is someone who has a million ideas, but they may not all be good, while a true reactor is someone who doesn’t have the ideas, but the minute you give them one, they come back and say funny, wonderful things.” In traditional radio, these roles were played by on-air talent, but in the online environment, the audience can participate as either generators or reactors.
In an age when anyone can put media content on the Web, Geller reminds her readers that a station or network’s brand is one of their greatest assets. “The fact that news stories have been vetted to journalistic standards gives content a level of credibility that many Internet-only sources can’t attain.”
“We are living through a time of tremendous change,” concludes Geller, “and with that change comes great opportunites for those who are willing to take risks.”