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COVID catapults digital audio

Posted by radio On December - 14 - 2021 ADD COMMENTS

By Mark Botha, Head of Digital at Mediamark

 

Digital adoption globally has been accelerated as a result of COVID-19 and the ensuing lockdowns. With people having scrambled to improve their home connectivity, they are in my view now well set up to engage with more digital platforms than prior to the start of the pandemic.

 

Tracking metrics also show that people are using multiple devices to engage with media from an audio perspective. SharpStream, a measurement platform that we use for our audio streaming sites, shows that Mediamark’s digital audio audiences via mobile phone increased by 9% in the past year alone (November 2020 compared to November 2021). The uptake of home entertainment systems, in the form of smart speakers and TV’s, also had a positive increase of 6% (November 2020 compared to November 2021).

 

These somewhat ‘forced’ lifestyle changes have shot our listening habits forward by numerous years. Further indication of the accelerated rise of digital adoption, is reflected from data by SharpStream and Fabrik which reveals that live streaming of Mediamark’s digital audio platforms grew on average by 35% year-on-year (January – November 2020 versus January – November 2021).

 

Digital audio is the evolution of radio and reflects the shift in the way people are tuning in. Part of radio’s enduring popularity is that it is both simultaneously intimate, while remaining part of a collective experience, digital audio drives this experience forward. It is accessible across multiple devices and as such plugs into people’s lives and is available to listeners no matter where they are, or what they are doing. The array of devices available for people to listen to digital audio will continue to grow, driven by the increase in connectivity as a result of the pandemic.

 

 

According to Statista, just over 60% of the population are reported to be internet users in 2021. While connectivity may be limited by infrastructure and the cost of data, it is worth noting that the South African Government wants 80% of the population to have access to the internet by 2024. While it may seem like a lofty goal, it is in keeping with a digitally evolving world, especially taking into account the changes that the pandemic has brought about in terms of remote working.

 

 

The increase in internet penetration and uptake of digital audio is starting to grab attention from marketers across the board. It is always important to bear in mind that while radio is a one-to-many platform, digital audio, currently provides a highly targeted one-to-one engagement. On the other end of this engagement is the immediacy of digital and the ability it provides to listeners to engage instantly. Audiences can click on a banner, visit the advertiser’s website or to participate in whatever call to action the advert is driving. It is this one-to-one interaction and the ability to encourage immediate action that marketers in South Africa are now starting to take advantage of.

 

 

There are numerous success stories. One of our clients – OUTsurance – recently ran a campaign with a shifting playlist advertisement, which remains on the player after advert delivery, allowing listeners to engage in their own time. The insurer’s radio ads are focused on getting clients to contact them, so the additional option to click on the player and engage added a new dimension to their campaign. OUTsurance increased their share of voice and exceeded their KPI’s, with both audio and display advertisements.

 

 

While Mediamark has seen a significant growth in digital audio advertising revenues since January 2020, not everyone is buying into it just yet. There has been a somewhat slower adoption among some traditional radio media planners. When agencies work in silos there can be a tendency for the digital team to say digital audio falls under radio and for the radio team to say it falls under digital.

 

 

Education is key to addressing this and we are continuing to put a lot of energy into exposing planners to the platform through engagements and webinars. Experimentation is also important.  Nobody has all the answers, and we are all learning more about this new medium on a day-to-day basis.

As digital advances continue, new online audio formats – including livestreaming, internet radio and on-demand music streaming – are here to stay. The question is: will more brands evolve to embrace new digital opportunities, like digital audio?

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The mobile data pricing conundrum

Posted by radio On December - 19 - 2019 ADD COMMENTS

[By: Sabelo Dlamini, Senior Research & Consulting Manager at IDC]

 

There needs to be an analysis of more advanced, technically driven pricing structures, says IDC.

As the market continues to digest the Competition Commission’s summary findings on the data services market in South Africa, some experts believe that their methodology in coming up with the findings was not necessarily the right approach. According to Sabelo Dlamini, Senior Research and Consulting Manager at International Data Corporation (IDC) South Africa, the South African mobile industry cannot be compared to those in other African countries.

 

 

“There are two issues that need to be considered here,” he says. “Firstly, the Competition Commission has focused quite strongly on the disparity between post- and prepaid pricing, but this requires further, more in-depth scrutiny. Secondly, they are comparing South African mobile data pricing to other African countries, but the comparison is not as simple as it seems.”

 

 

Dlamini says the South African mobile operators have gone the extra mile in deploying their networks while they did not have the required 4G spectrum. “These network operators had to work with 3G spectrum, re-farming that spectrum to deliver 4G services. They have invested a lot in terms of technological design and engineering to achieve this. That means that the design and quality of service and experience in South Africa are much better when compared to other African countries.”

 

He adds that in most other African countries, the operators have hand-picked certain cities or areas when deploying the networks or planning the coverage, compared to South Africa where there is more-or-less full coverage across the country. “The situation in South Africa is very different from that in other countries on the continent. The telcos have invested a lot in infrastructure in the country and they are therefore expecting higher returns.”

 

 

From a pricing perspective, Dlamini believes the Competition Commission should be delving deeper into the complex pricing models rather than just focusing on the price per Gig. “The Competition Commission needs to unpack the current pricing structures in more detail to determine how they can be remodelled to benefit the poor. Yes, one could easily focus on the price per Gig, but that will result in blanket pricing, which will ultimately disadvantage end-users or customers,” he says.

 

The pricing models need to be unpacked technically as there are several innovative products that can be used to implement more adaptive and demand-based pricing. “Just focusing on the standard price per Gig is a more primitive way of pricing. However, if, using technology if you adjust your pricing based on the amount of congestion and usage of a specific cell, coupling those with some free zones, free minutes and zero-rated content, it would have a far more beneficial outcome for end-users or customers.”

 

Impact on MTN and Vodacom?

Regardless of whether the Competition Commission pushes ahead with the findings, consumers will continue to communicate and use data as they are using it now, possibly even more. “The biggest impact on the operators will be that they will take longer to repay the CAPEX costs of their network investments. But, focusing on a standard price list model could result in customers losing the benefit of free zones, minutes and zero-rated content, which will disadvantage them even further,” says Dlamini. “That is why we are urging the Competition Commission to delve deeper into existing technically advanced pricing models to rather determine how those can be made more efficient and more affordable to the end-user,” he says.

 

There could also be a broader negative impact on the industry if both MTN and Vodacom half their prices. “Telkom and Cell C currently position themselves based on more affordable pricing. Should the two bigger operators bring their cost down significantly, it could have unintended consequences on the smaller operators, making it more difficult for them to compete.”

 

It is time to explore alternatives to mobile

Dlamini concludes that the mobile networks in South Africa have reached saturation level and alternatives must be explored to connect the unconnected efficiently. “There are several technologies available outside of mobile that can be used to connect the unconnected,” he says. “We have seen several organisations and projects within government, such as USAASA and SA Connect, that have not yielded the expected results. Building mobile networks is expensive, so if we are serious about connecting the unconnected, we need to start looking at alternative technologies, such as TV Whitespaces, WiFi and satellite.”

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Data analysis helps organisations make sense of complex data sets, providing insights that are not necessarily visible to the human eye. The availability of higher computational, storage and networking capabilities, means that the amount of data being transferred are increased proportionately. According to Sabelo Dlamini, Senior Research and Consulting Manager at International Data Corporation (IDC) South Africa, that has resulted in the increased use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to derive insights that drive business decision-making.

 

“AI is one of the tools that can be used to analyse data and give the organisation deep insights. It is several algorithms that mimic human behaviour in analysing the data. Along with Machine Learning (ML) and Deep Learning (DL), it is one of the techniques used to analyse the data, apply intelligence and ultimately provide insights,” he says.

 

 

With the adoption of these analysis tools, comes the responsibility of identifying the right tools to meet the needs of the business and to hire employees with the right skills. “It comes with embracing the use of innovation accelerators such as AI, robot process automation (RPA) and using data scientists – a role which is becoming vital in organisations,” Dlamini adds that the types of insights the business wants will determine the tools they deploy. “The organisation needs to decide what type of data they want to analyse and the type of insights they are after. AI is a collective word for a number of algorithms that can be applied, so it’s more about zooming into the AI bag and seeing which tool you can be able to pick based on your needs and cross-checking your solutions to ensure they meet your needs.”

 

 

With most organisations already overwhelmed by the amount of data that is available, it is now more about prioritising what you really want out of it. “When you get all the data that is available, you can easily be side-tracked by interesting insights that might not even be relevant to the business. The key here is to know what the business priorities and KPIs are and then focusing on those when you analyse the data,” says Dlamini. “It is about knowing exactly what you want to extract from the data or why you are collecting that data in the first place.”

 

While AI does reduce the need for human intervention, it does not eliminate it entirely. “There will still be a need for skilled individuals or people who are able to relate and narrate insight into human experiences and communicate them. This is not something machines or robotics would necessarily be able to do. You will still need someone to interpret the data because while robots are much more advanced and able to solve complex problems, they might struggle with some of the more basic problems that require a human touch. They are also not capable of relating some of the results to human experiences that have a practical implication and must be related meaningfully to real live cases,” he says.

 

 

 

Dlamini says AI, the Internet of Things (IoT) and the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) are significantly changing the way data is collected, managed and analysed. “With IoT, we will eventually get to a point where pretty much everything will have computing ability or a sensor and send data on a regular basis, resulting in big data. To draw insights from that data you will require AI tools to draw the required insights. So, these are all interconnected and in the bigger picture of things, like the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), it is more about defining which use cases you will be focusing on,” he says. “It will drive change in industries as they start requiring less human intervention. In manufacturing, for example, we are envisioning factories being run by robotics or AI, or even running autonomously. It will be about having the sensors in place to collect the data, storing that data and having the AI mimicking human intelligence to make the decisions and feedback to the factory, enabling it to run on its own.”

 

 

Dlamini concludes that organisations are already being prepared for this eventuality. “While data analytics capabilities seem very new and almost futuristic, it will eventually become the same as generic computer skills. Where 30 years’ ago, computer skills were only for the select few, they have now become the norm. We foresee that soon, as with computer skills, everyone will have the skills to analyse the data and the capability to apply the right tools to draw the required insights.”

 

 

[Issued by: IDC]

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Deseré Orrill is the chairperson and co-founder of Ole!Connect, a digital media company based in South Africa.  She is currently completing an international MBA with a specialisation in Design Thinking principles. 

 

It goes without saying that digital disruption is changing how we work, live and play.  On the one hand, technology and the digital ecosystem are exciting, opening up new frontiers of convenience and connectivity (among other benefits).  On the other hand, it’s a scary place for job seekers either already in the workforce or, who are just leaving school or tertiary institutions to enter for the first time.

 

 

 

Some areas will experience change by evolution, others more rapidly but, one thing is certain, there will be change.

 

As the digital era advances, changes in the job market are inevitable.  In retail for example, as more companies go online to trade there are fewer physical retail outlets and therefore, a dwindling requirement for human beings to man physical stores.

 

But herein lies the true opportunity, for while there will be the inescapable initial job losses, those that have made the move to eCommerce have shown a corresponding increase in the requirement for a different set of proficiencies – people at both ends of the skills spectrum.

 

Digitalisation and automation don’t necessarily lead to the reduction of human jobs, but rather herald a different way of structuring the job market. The means required to transport and deliver the goods create new systems, and different jobs are thus created. The impact these changes have on means of production, imports and exports, money flow, production cycles, consumption patterns, demand management, technological development is already being felt and will only continue to grow.

 

The outlook for real world retail outlets is that the shopping experience will become exactly that – an experience. It is not unforeseeable that appointments to view and touch real life examples of wares will have to be made. The physical (non-online) shopping experience could become much more planned, more personalised, and we could see a return to one-on-one attention in the purchase of not only luxury goods, but also everyday personalised or customised products.

The ‘real-world’ human connection points will be fewer but, also potentially better, especially for those who do their online research beforehand. Their virtual ‘tests’ and desire to have one more final ‘real check’ before purchase, will plan their retail visit by appointment, perhaps even adding a sense of occasion to the purchase.

 

Consider the advances in virtual reality (VR) technology and what artificial intelligence (AI) can already do, and then imagine a time when we can design our own outfits, dinners, transport solutions (and so on), try them on for size, AI monitors our reaction and adapts the end result accordingly, before the item is ordered and purchased.

 

These changes are already being felt within the highly pressurised South African job market, with notable examples in the banking sector. With the recent headline-grabbing Standard Bank branch closures, it is clear there is an emphasis being placed upon improving the functionality and ease of use of online and mobile banking services as opposed to the physical experience.

 

According to a recent article in TechCentral, “Absa, FNB, Nedbank and Standard Bank — have together shut 695 branches since their respective peaks in the earlier part of this decade.” This restructuring, however, can also be an opportunity, as discussed recently by Absa Banks Deputy CEO, Peter Matlare, via LinkedIn. He explains that Absa is one of those traditional banks delving deeper into digital banking, and “as part of this change, this digitisation is about what should be in your toolbox and how do we change culturally how people interact with each other and with a customer out there in order to become this agile, digitally-enabled bank that will hopefully succeed.”

 

Within the banking sector then, there is also the option not to eliminate physical branches and human interaction, but instead to change the nature of the services offered at the branches. Rather than traditional bank tellers carrying out transactions which could also be done online, there will be a focus on helping clients to make better use of the digital services by means of facilitating real life interactions on site.

 

For those in the marketing and advertising worlds, the future is already here and the next generation of marketer needs a whole new basket of skills. Disruptions with this space have already seen shake-ups for traditional advertising agencies who are often scrambling to adapt to a world where advertising is now delivered within an on-demand space with content and tailored to key demographics based on data-driven insights.

 

Disrupters in this space, such as the next generation team at OLE!CONNECT are leaders in understanding the new requirements of the digital age and both its company structure and employee skills set reflect this.  The marketing and advertising jobs of today were not even imagined a decade ago, and iin order to keep up with the realities of this new job market in sectors such as retail, banking, marketing and advertising amongst others, the South African education and training sectors need to adapt and adapt quickly.

 

Young graduates need a new set of relevant skills that will prepare them for the changes inglobal production, consumption, trade and retail.  Within this new environment of digitalisation, it’s time to ensure we are not just prepared for the future that is upon us, but rather excited and ready to embrace it.

 

About Deseré Orrill

Deseré Orrill is co-founder and chairman of Ole!Connect. She has been involved in global marketing for companies in SA and Europe since the 90s.  As former marketing director based in Europe of an international chain of luxury hotels, her business experience spans a number of continents, languages and corporate cultures. She founded a boutique marketing consultancy in 1996 with an exclusively digital focus. After returning to South Africa with her family, in 2009 she and partner, Tim Legg, co-founded MobiMedia, one of SA’s first dedicated full service mobile media and marketing companies. Through  acquisitions and organic growth, the organisation has evolved over the past decade to become the leading integrated, data-driven digital media and marketing company today known as Ole!Connect.

 

An acknowledged speaker on the topics of digital disruption, women in digital, and how design thinking is successfully being adopted in modern business, Deseré has a special interest in the relationship between business strategy and organisational behaviour.

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By: Kieran Frost, Research Manager for Software focused on sub-Saharan Africa for International Data Corporation

 

One of the questions that we at the International Data Corporation are asked is what impact technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) will have on jobs. Where are there likely to be job opportunities in the future? Which jobs (or job functions) are most ripe for automation? What sectors are likely to be impacted first? The problem with these questions is that they misunderstand the size of the barriers in the way of system-wide automation: the question isn’t only about what’s technically feasible. It’s just as much a question of what’s legally, ethically, financially and politically possible.

 

That said, there are some guidelines that can be put in place. An obvious career path exists in being on the ‘other side of the code’, as it were – being the one who writes the code, who trains the machine, who cleans the data. But no serious commentator can leave the discussion there – too many people are simply not able to or have the desire to code. Put another way: where do the legal, financial, ethical, political and technical constraints on AI leave the most opportunity?

 

 

Firstly, AI (driven by machine learning techniques) is getting better at accomplishing a whole range of things – from recognising (and even creating) images, to processing and communicating natural language, completing forms and automating processes, fighting parking tickets, being better than the best Dota 2 players in the world and aiding in diagnosing diseases. Machines are exceptionally good at completing tasks in a repeatable manner, given enough data and/or enough training. Adding more tasks to the process or attempting system-wide automation requires more data and more training. This creates two constraints on the ability of machines to perform work: 1) machine learning requires large amounts of (quality) data and 2) training machines requires a lot of time and effort (and therefore cost). Let’s look at each of these in turn – and we’ll discuss how other considerations come into play along the way.

 

 

Speaking in the broadest possible terms, machines require large amounts of data to be trained to a level to meet or exceed human performance in a given task. This data enables the bot to learn how best to perform that task. Essentially, the data pool determines the output.

 

 

However, there are certain job categories which require knowledge of, and then subversion of, the data set – jobs where producing the same ‘best’ outcome would not be optimal. Particularly, these are jobs that are typically referred to as creative pursuits – design, brand, look and feel. To use a simple example: if pre-Apple, we trained a machine to design a computer, we would not have arrived at the iMac, and the look and feel of iOS would not become the predominant mobile interface.

 

 

This is not to say that machines cannot create things. We’ve recently seen several ML-trained machines on the internet that produce pictures of people (that don’t exist) – that is undoubtedly creation (of a particularly unnerving variety). The same is true of the AI that can produce music. But those models are trained to produce more of what we recognise as good. Because art is no science, a machine would likely have no better chance of producing a masterpiece than a human. And true innovation, in many instances, requires subverting the data set, not conforming to it.

 

 

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, training AI requires time and money. Some actions are simply too expensive to automate. These tasks are either incredibly specialised, and therefore do not have enough data to support the development of a model, or very broad, which would require so much data that it will render the training of the machine economically unviable. There are also other challenges which may arise. At the IDC, we refer to the Scope of AI-Based Automation. In this scope:

 

 

  • A task is the smallest possible unit of work performed on behalf of an activity.

  • An activity is a collection of related tasks to be completed to achieve the objective.

  • A process is a series of related activities that produce a specific output.

  • A system (or an ecosystem) is a set of connected processes.

 

As we move up the stack from task to system, we find different obstacles. Let’s use the medical industry as an example to show how these constraints interact. Medical image interpretation bots, powered by neural networks, exhibit exceptionally high levels of accuracy in interpreting medical images. This is used to inform decisions which are ultimately made by a human – an outcome that is dictated by regulation.

Here, even if we removed the regulation, those machines cannot automate the entire process of treating the patient. Activity reminders (such as when a patient should return for a check-up, or reminders to follow a drug schedule) can in part be automated, with ML applications checking patient past adherence patterns, but with ultimate decision-making by a doctor. Diagnosis and treatment are a process that is ultimately still the purview of humans. Doctors are expected to synthesize information from a variety of sources – from image interpretation machines to the patient’s adherence to the drug schedule – in order to deliver a diagnosis. This relationship is not only a result of a technicality – there are ethical, legal and trust reasons that dictate this outcome.

 

There is also an economic reason that dictates this outcome. The investment required to train a bot to synthesize all the required data for proper diagnosis and treatment is considerable. On the other end of the spectrum, when a patient’s circumstance requires a largely new, highly specialised or experimental surgery, a bot will unlikely have the data required to be sufficiently trained to perform the operation and even then, it would certainly require human oversight.

 

 

The economic point is a particularly important one. To automate the activity in a mine, for example, would require massive investment into what would conceivably be an army of robots. While this may be technically feasible, the costs of such automation likely outweigh the benefits, with replacement costs of robots running into the billions. As such, these jobs are unlikely to disappear in the medium term.

 

 

Thus, based on technical feasibility alone our medium-term jobs market seems to hold opportunity in the following areas: the hyper-specialised (for whom not enough data exists to automate), the jack-of-all-trades (for whom the data set is too large to economically automate), the true creative (who exists to subvert the data set) and finally, those whose job it is to use the data. However, it is not only technical feasibility that we should consider. Too often, the rhetoric would have you believe that the only thing stopping large scale automation is the sophistication of the models we have at our disposal, when in fact financial, regulatory, ethical, legal and political barriers are of equal if not greater importance. Understanding the interplay of each of these for a role in a company is the only way to divine the future of that role.

 

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DeVaughn – a crooning renaissance man

Posted by radio On March - 31 - 2014 Comments Off on DeVaughn – a crooning renaissance man

 

[by Mlibokazi Mayeza]

 

Our US. based correspondent, the ever so talismanic Mlibokazi Mayeza, hones into Raheem DeVaughn’s impressive repertoire as a Grammy Award nominated artist. We get a front row seat to this Washington DC based crooner about his optimism on the current R&B scene , The Raheem DeVaughn (radio) Show and an upcoming performance in Joburg.

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Some music enthusiasts are quick to point out that R&B is dead but singer / songwriter Raheem DeVaughn believes that the music is just going through a transitional period. According to an Ebony Magazine interview dated September 2013, DeVaughn believes that we will continue to hear a surge of the 1990s sound with a current twist – a sort of rebirth and reinvention for the popular music genre. This trend, he says, was the premise for his latest album, A Place Called Loveland (released September 2013). This is the 37-year-old’s fourth full-length album and boasts production collaborations with Ne-Yo, Mario Winans and Adonis.

 

Since his introduction into the music market back in 2003 with the release of The Love Experience, his fans have watched him pick up three Grammy nominations and see his record label deal with the Jive Records fall through. However, The King of Loveland (as he’s known on twitter) has managed to consistently keep up with his fans by churning out mix-tape after mix-tape while running his own music label, 368 Music.

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No stranger to new media and social media platforms, DeVaughn credits these networks with helping him reinvent and promote his brand and the type of music musicians should be making. This gave rise to The Raheem DeVaughn (radio) Show. Airing Sunday evenings from 7pm – 9pm EST via www.blis.fm and Livestream. The show includes interviews, music you probably will not hear on the radio and various topics of interest, for example, reality television, finances, music and relationships. Not bad for this Washington, DC native.

 

In the spirit of reaching audiences worldwide, Raheem has teamed up with the annual UPE Soul Fest and will be performing at The Bassline in Johannesburg on April 12th. Los Angeles – based UPE founder Douglas Moroke says the 2012 edition of Soul Fest featutring Eric Roberson proved that the South African audience wants more neo-soul performances. Not only that – the tour crew will host a free 90-minute long music conference featuring local crooners Kabomo and Speedy amongst others. The conference aims to focus on Songwriting, Music Promotion and the pros and cons of Indie Labels and Major Labels. He will also be talking to aspiring musicians about the possibilities of international collaborations, which he has started with local artists Speedy and HHP.

 

 

Individuals wishing to attend the conference can send their name, email address and contact number to blackdropent@hotmail.com and copy urbanphenomenonent@gmail.com. Seating is limited and they will only issue one ticket per email received.

 

 

 

 

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Part 2 of radio character introduction

Posted by radio On March - 7 - 2014 Comments Off on Part 2 of radio character introduction

 

[By Dan O’Day]

 

How to Introduce New Characters To Your Radio Show [continued]

 

Part two

 

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You don’t need to make a big deal about the introduction of a new character to your radio show. And you don’t need to indicate it’s the introduction of a new “running” character or cast member. Instead, just do the bit.

 

Example

You might casually remark about “What Does The Fox Say?”:

Actually, around here it might be more appropriate to ask what does the deer say. “Just drop it in there as an amusing little aside, and move on.

Then you take a phone call.

YOU: Hi, (Radio X).

EDWARD: Yeah, this is Edward (Surname). I’m a ( ) here in ( ). I’m what you’d call an outdoorsman.

YOU: Ah, yessir…?

EDWARD: I can tell you exactly “what the deer” say.

YOU: What would that be?

EDWARD: Damn, a bumper!

If the audience responds — or if in your gut you feel it worked — do two or three more similar calls. If the character clicks with the audience, then you can simply continue to feature him as a regular. If it flops…Don’t worry. People don’t remember your failures.

Here’s the first on-air appearance of one of the best radio characters ever — Howard Hoffman’s “Mr. Stress” on Z-100/New York. Note how the jock (Ross Brittain) simply takes a phone call from a listener. There’s no signaling to the audience, “Hey, here’s a new character!”

 

Inside Story

Ross was in charge of the Z Morning Zoo’s comedy. But Scott Shannon (his on-air partner and Z-100 program director) didn’t like the bit. So Ross did what any self-respecting morning jock would do: He waited for the PD (Scott) to go on vacation, and then he played the bit. (You’ll hear Mr. Stress refer to Shannon’s absence from the show.)

By the time Scott returned, Mr. Stress was a hit.

 

Questions to Jump Start a New Character

What does he care about?

What is he passionate about?

What gets him angry?

What makes him deliriously happy?

Whom does he view as the world’s “villain”?

Who is his all-time hero?

What secret is he trying to hide? (Mr. Stress, for example, might be hiding the fact that deep down he’s insecure, and he tries to cover that up with his bluster.)

 

The Character’s Catch Phrase

Most attempts at manufacturing “catch phrases” fail. Usually you discover the catch phrase only after the character has been introduced.

The ones that “go viral” somehow represent the core of the character.

For example, “Answer me!” immediately became Mr. Stress’s catch phrase. But why? “Answer me!” isn’t funny…at least, not without the right context.

But this character is a guy who is so stressed out that he doesn’t have the patience to answer a question that he just asked. That’s why “Answer me!” caught on; it expressed his core character.

By the way, “What Does The Fox Say?” was:

1. A hit record in 2013.

2. YouTube’s fastest trending video for 2013. (As I write this, it has 321,742,665 views.)

3. The creation of a couple of friends of ours, the Ylvis Brothers. If you haven’t already heard it, check out this wonderfully good radio bit of theirs from several years ago.

 

© 2014 by Dan O’Day Reprinted by Permission of the author

 

 

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How to Introduce New Characters To Your Radio Show

Posted by radio On March - 7 - 2014 Comments Off on How to Introduce New Characters To Your Radio Show

 

[By Dan O’Day]

 

Ever wondered why your favourite breakfast show is composed of a team with different personalities and views? Well that is precisely what makes for contentious and attention grabbing radio. Radio guru, DAN O’DAY gives a two part take on the mechanisms of introducing and sustaining a character for a radio show.

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Part one

 

A member of our Radio Pro Facebook group asked a question about how to create and introduce a new character for his radio show.

I have a character I have been playing with adding to the on-air line up — sort of the flip side of my own personality. I have tested the character on a few friends and everyone loves the idea.”

Planning on recording a couple dozen bits before adding it to the on-air side of things. Just not sure how to introduce the new person to the audience. Advice?” One of our group members responded, “The best character is you.”

 

While I agree that to sustain an entire and recurring radio show “the best character is you,” for a peripheral character I would change that to “the best character means something to you.”

That might clearly be a facet of your true personality. Or it might be your personal reaction to a type of person very unlike you — even a type of person you dislike.

 

When presenting a character who is fundamentally different from you, the key is to play it as honestly (even if exaggeratedly) as possible.

Rather than “Here’s me, mocking this kind of character” it should be, “Here’s me, doing my best to present this character just as he would present himself in real life.”

I have strong negative opinions about people who con other people by claiming to have “psychic powers.” But my “psychic” persona is one of my more popular “characters.”

 

The voice is pretty much just my regular ol’ voice. Having a fair knowledge of the mechanics of how they con people I simply create a fun situation, put the character in it, and let him react to it as he naturally would.

 

I don’t really have strong feelings about “self-help gurus” (some are good, some are terrible) but usually I find them funny-to-ludicrous. I also have a strong background in psychology. So I find it easy to adapt that persona when that character can serve a scene.

I suspect that character doesn’t resonate with my audience as much as my “psychic,” simply because I have stronger feelings about the “psychic.” But it’s still entertaining, probably because I’m able to bring in my psychology background to help inform the bit.

 

Your Character

What is the character like? What will he be bringing to your show?

(Injection of outrageous P.O.V.? Unique perspective based upon his profession, geographic or family background, etc.?)

There’s no “right” way to introduce a character. But if you give us some information about your guy, perhaps we can suggest a few different approaches.

 

His response:

The character is “Edward” who is more or less the flip side of me. The stuff I would not say, Edward would be able to voice a little better.

I don’t hunt or fish — he could talk about those for example, but with a humorous caricature type voice and let Edward have the punchline while I play dumb.

Examples…

Edward giving a review of “What The Fox Say” and explaining that they actually make a bark or yip like a dog

Me asking if that means my neighbors might be housing one and calling it a chihuahua.

Edward explaining that the better question in our area is “What The Deer Say”

Me asking what that might be

Edward saying “damn a bumper!”

(We have a lot of deer/vehicle accidents in our rural area.)

For some reason trying to explain it doesn’t seem as funny as it actually plays out when joking around….

 

Well, going from “seems like a funny idea” to “here’s the fully realized funny piece” is where the work lies.

But the structure you’re suggesting has a lot of promise. It’s a way for you to bring in a broad topic in which much of your audience is interested but about which you know nothing.

Rather than faking a personal interest or pretending to know about the topic, you’re acknowledging and using that local topic to add relevant entertainment value to your radio show.

 

Being willing to give “Edward” the punchline is smart. Too many radio DJs think they themselves need to “get the laughs.” But it’s their show. If the audience laughs at their show, the host gets the credit.

 

You also have a good ear for material:

What The Deer Say: “Damn, a bumper”— that’s a solid joke that fits the character and the topic.

 

© 2014 by Dan O’Day Reprinted by Permission of the author

 

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Storytelling for radioheads

Posted by radio On March - 3 - 2014 Comments Off on Storytelling for radioheads

 

 

Many may only think of old fireside ‘once upon a times’ when we speak about story telling. But the art of weaving a coherent and entertaining story is still relevant even in these modern times. ANDREW K. MILLER, gives a few pointers on how radio practitioners can be better story tellers.

 

andrew_miller_portait

 

1. I believe there is an over-reliance by producers and hosts on the PR cycle for content. It’s easy to pull content from press releases, and the outputs of agencies are by no means irrelevant to life. However, one of the consequences of this paradigm is that themes, topics and personalities are frequently replicated across all radio channels, which means genuinely original content is rare, and in a sense listeners are being taken for granted.

 

2. I also believe the personal life and agenda of the radio host matters more and more as they become established within the industry. Individuals develop an easily identifiable tone, attitude, approach to content, set of favourite topics and so forth. This is what gives their show the specific flavour listeners respond to, but over time it can also be the kiss of death by boredom. Conversely, when a host pushes their own personal and social boundaries, when they explore new and exciting experiences and ideas, they will naturally inject energy, fresh perspectives and better stories into their offering, to which their loyal listeners will respond, and which could well expand the audience for the show.

 

3. Reading aggressively is central to good storytelling. There is a significant difference between reading passively for entertainment purposes, and reading as part of your professional life. It’s quite obvious to listeners when a host is genuinely well read. Indeed, in many senses the host is reading on behalf of their audience, in order to expand the range of content relevant to us all. My belief is that radio hosts who read well outside of their natural intellectual, cultural and social comfort range are able to excite their audience, while those who simply read within their natural zone become predictable.

 

4. Good storytellers pay attention to their audience, and seek to share something authentic of themselves with their audience in order to relate to them. Often this – the willingness to share personal truth and experience – involves personal and emotional risk. Storytellers who aren’t taking some level of risk aren’t really committed to their art or their audience – they’re more committed to their careers than anything else, and it shows.

 

5. Politics is life. Everyone in South Africa is deeply involved – like it or not – in politics. It’s interesting, then, how many radio shows purposefully avoid any hint of politics, for fear of ruining the entertainment factor. I think a better balance can be struck between easy listening and content that relates to real life than avoiding all political content at all costs. Yes, politics can be risky, but avoiding it altogether in South Africa makes strong, authentic storytelling very challenging.

 

6. Spin is death. This relates back to the mechanics of content and the PR cycle. Far too often one hears radio hosts reading press releases out loud as if no one will notice. My belief is that people may not cognitively notice they are in the middle of a spin cycle, but that it is at this time that they reach for the off switch, or put on a CD. No one should ever read a press release on air under any circumstances without telling their listeners they are doing so.

 

7. Where is the underground? A city like Joburg features a fantastically strong underground, street arts scene. A scene that is commented on around the world and loved by tourists. Our radio stations barely seem to know this scene exists, let alone seem to have the  desire to cover it. This to me this is a storytelling tragedy. We have extremely rich content and stories right here on our streets, but we appear to be unaware of this fact.

 

 

8. It would be wonderful to see more local radio hosts developing content out in the real world, armed with a microphone. BCC radio remains very strong in this area and we could learn from the way they approach content. There is something particularly special about longer length reportage on niche subjects  carried out this way. My feeling is that local radio storytelling could be significantly improved if stations and hosts didn’t view their work as fundamentally studio bound.

 

 

Andrew K. Miller is a poet, freelance writer and an uber story teller. For more on Miller’s works and projects visit : executivetalksjohannesburg.co.za

 

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[By: Kagiso Mnisi]

Prominent in Adil More’s repertoire has always been his way of articulating thoughtfulness in a refreshing way. Since his days as a Y generationer, the man has been able to maintain a mild mannered stance on the airwaves but still with enough presence to make enthusiastic listeners to come back for more. Adil’s campaign at Metro FM began six years ago and after a couple of shake ups by programming he remains one of its most engaging hosts. Radiobiz chats to him about global competition in the radio sector, surveys and e-Toll.

 

Radiobiz : What are your preferred ingredients in creating an entertaining 09:00 – 12:00 slot during weekends?

‘Originality bears longevity’ has always been my compass and everything I engage in. I therefore strive to create output that’s different from what anyone else has to offer as an individual, radio show and a chart show.

 

Radiobiz :How do you and Minnie strike a balance between being agreeable and of opposing views so that your show stays fresh?

There are established expectations and roles from programming and the station that are outlined based on presenter strengths which fortunately diffuse any of the above mentioned potential situation/s.

 

Radiobiz :What other aspects of the radio medium to you still want to explore?

My goal – I suspect every radio presenters goal – is

1) Host a prime time weekly Morning Show.

2) Move up to programming.

3) Complete integration of radio with social media.

 

Radiobiz :Radio has proven to be a resilient medium in South Africa, what do you think the sector still needs to do to compete globally?

Imagine BLACKCOFFEE was a station and not a DJ. In other words improved and clear identity of the sound of South Africa and Africa gives us a prospect to embrace our pride like never before.

 

Radiobiz : Do you think research surveys such as Radio Audience Measurement help programming in any way ?

They are certainly the frame of reference for corporate and that speaks directly to programming. Personally? In my years of broadcast am yet to meet anyone who’s had any kind of contact with surveyors.

 

Radiobiz : Media sites and literature have punted Power FM as the station to watch, as a radio practitioner what good do you think will come out of the station’s presence ?

Options are always welcomed there’s certainly room for that and more. An opinion from a ‘native’ perspective would be an interesting and relatable one.

 

Radiobiz :Are you for or against E-Toll and why ?

I am for any effort that improves the livelihood of all involved as long as it’s within the affordability of its people, there is no point in initiating anything if it’s going to further cripple the majority for the benefit of a few.

 

Radiobiz :Looking back at your time spent on the airwaves, can the pursuit of career advancement ever exist alongside genuine service to the public ?

Yes … otherwise politicians of genuine intentions as few as they may be would never exist.

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