Where’s New On-Air Talent Going to Come From?

Pilots are trained to give priority to flying the plane during a crisis in the cockpit, because it’s human nature to focus on crises – things that appear urgent – even though there may be higher-priority tasks at hand. Similarly, as radio finds itself challenged on many fronts, programmers and managers still need to focus on operating the station day to day – flying the plane, if you will.

Last week’s North American Broadcasters Association Symposium, held at NAB headquarters in Washington, showed off coming enhancements in digital technology and connected cars, which will allow instantaneous feedback from listeners while they’re driving. These possibilities come about as connected cars learn to communicate with:

  • Other cars (for accident avoidance).
  • Manufacturers for service and performance updates.
  • Service providers (Filld, for example, a service that brings gas to your vehicle; Bentley is offering this service to people who buy their vehicles as an option, where the service is available.).

The opportunities represented by being able to get instant feedback from drivers while they listen to the radio are tantalizing to programming, promotion and sales departments – but, while closer to fruition than flying cars, they’re not here today.

Another presentation showed the challenges consumers are facing as auto makers roll out infotainment systems in connected cars. In some cases, the built-in voice-recognition systems frustrate consumers who are just trying to change stations. In other cases, non-intuitive layouts of screens and buttons complicate changing stations or adding presets. As we’ve opined here, it’s time for stations to renew their efforts to get listeners to “set a preset” – because tuning on the fly might be almost impossible.

We participated in a panel about building radio audiences in a world that includes new media choices for listeners. An interesting perspective on Social Media was provided by Lux, the morning host on Emmis’ KNOU (Now 96.3) in St. Louis. As a Millennial who’s spent her career with the Emmis cluster in St. Louis, Lux has deep experience in station promotions, but is relatively new to on-air work. For her, Social Media allows an extension of her show, from live streaming after her show and at station events and appearances, to using different Social Media platforms to tell stories surrounding her show. Lux plays Social Media like a pipe organ, getting the best from each platform and knowing the kinds of posts that will be optimal for each message. She knows instinctively what NuVoodoo Research data shows: People spend more time listening to stations that engage with them in Social Media.

Here’s a large market morning host who got her job because she understands listeners, having seen them up close and in person at station appearances. Organically, she differentiates between the push of legacy media and the increasing preference of today’s consumers to pull what they want at their convenience. Frankly, they’re better qualifications for being on the radio than the old days when the important qualifications were being able slip cue a record and back-time to the news.