"The industry has become more adept at using its commercial and non-commercial space to create more effective commercial 'cut-through' and content."Recent events like the 2Day FM nurse prank scandal have shown how important it is for networks to "think" before they open the mic. With advertisers ready to pull out (and stations now voluntarily pulling them) in times of crisis, there is less room for announcers to "speak their minds" for fear of upsetting the corporate dollar. It hasn't always been that way. "When I started [in the 1970s] there were no formal qualifications as such," said Trevor Sinclair, from 2CH Drive on the Macquarie Media Network, home of controversial Sydney station 2GB. Professionalism, new ideas and strategic maximisation of potential profits is now so important that AFTRS has added a 12-week "strategic radio sales" course to its curriculum. The jobs are in sales, marketing and integration. Looking for better ways to make money out of radio is nothing new, but with profits continuing to slide -- and networking and less localisation becoming the norm -- some stalwart announcers fear the medium could become "a sanitised and beige industry" where announcers are muzzled by the brands advertised on the networks. So is it dollars over "free" creative content? "The industry has become more adept at using its commercial and non-commercial space to create more effective commercial 'cut-through' and content," said David Hefter, national sales director at ARN. "Integration has been the buzzword." In 2013 networks can't simply put a program, an announcer, a competition or a song on air and cross their fingers: everything is planned. "The other shift has been towards greater integration of well-thought-out and planned promotions or campaigns so as to make the message more interactive for the listener and to get them to engage with the product or service," said Hefter. Collier is concerned with making sure his graduates understand that working in broadcasting is not all about being a "star". So will the traditional radio "jock" become obsolete? Some believe that they just have to prepare to adapt. "The market is looking for more cross-platform integration using on-air talent in the digital age we now live in. Our clients are looking for true partnerships and multiplatform communications solutions, not just a radio schedule," said Michelle Thomas, ARN campaigns and activations director. For now creative content is safe, but announcers still need to be aware of the changing landscape of on-air content, and how it is structured, planned -- and paid for.
No show in radio business: jocks make way for ‘integration’
It's not the same game for radio announcers any more, writes freelance journalist Alyce Vayle. Broadcasters are more concerned about cross-platform integration -- but is the sector becoming boring?