On Air - Fastrack into Radio
on March 20, 2013
I have been listening to the radio for an alarming number of decades, a full one of which I spent as the radio columnist/critic for South Africa's largest circulation daily newspaper. Allowing for individual style, the differences between good and bad or effective and ineffective broadcasters are succinctly encompassed in the accrued wisdom contained in this book. It starts from understanding that what matters is what's heard, not what's said. Russell explains this in the twin basics of (1) PROFESSIONALISM (think first, speak clearly and concisely, respect language, pronounce names correctly, etc) and (2) IMMEDIACY - the idea of radio as a friend. He is right that people listen not to radio but to PEOPLE, and we quickly tire of listening to verbose, arrogant, self-promoting prats. Talking to a mike requires as much self-assurance as standing up on a stage, and like an actor what a broadcaster needs to project is persona, not ego. A broadcaster entertain his audience, not himself.
Russell was a fine broadcaster who did that: you felt you knew him. Then when he moved into management, he turned an ailing music station into a winner and pioneered national talk radio: you felt you knew the station. He embraced and applied new technologies to modernise the rapport with listeners, not to replace it.
The current crop of talking heads that love to hear the sound of their own voices have lost the plot. This book needs to be read widely so we recognise what we’ve lost before it’s too late to get it back.