FeaturesWhere will the next wave of radio talent come from? 

Where will the next wave of radio talent come from? 

Dave Charles

By Dave Charles, President of Media RESULTS Inc.

Where will the next wave of radio talent come from?

This is a question I’ve been asked over and over again by clients, radio owners and personalities who are not sure that radio has a future in a fragmented media world. They may be right!

Radio used to be the source for new music. Spotify does that now. I get most of my breaking news on Twitter, as well as current traffic and weather.

Attracting engaging talent and drawing on radio’s ability for immediacy will be key to its staying power.

The next wave of radio talent is already here, but finding that talent is the challenge that many Content Directors are not up for.

The next generation of talent will be those who can bring their authenticity and street smarts to the airwaves. Let me give you a hint: street buskers, bar staff, new comedians, bloggers, pro athletes, TikTok, and musicians who face live audiences every night…these are only a few examples of areas I’ve exploited for new talent. You’re looking for characters, NOT big voices. That’s the key.

One of the ways I’ve found talent is to offer potential on-air personalities a tour of the radio station. At the end of the tour, everyone does an interview-style voice test, rather than the traditional weather read or song intro. What you want to achieve is a conversational setting to get the essence of what each person is all about.

The best personalities from this audition are invited to come back to the station and enter an intern program to develop their basic skills. The best ones get opportunities in smaller market stations to build their chops.

How much turf is radio willing to give up?

In my view, radio should be LIVE 24/7 especially on the weekends.

Voice tracking has improved over the years, however let me suggest that having live talent on-air gives your station far more scope in both interacting with your audience and your ability to respond to local breaking stories immediately. One of radio’s original strengths was offering immediacy. It’s still very important.

Some radio groups are networking formats like MOVE, KiSS, The Breeze, HOT, and PURE COUNTRY, but not to the extent that Australian radio groups are doing with a.m., p.m. and evening shows.

Network shows are okay, but they miss an opportunity to localize. And don’t forget shoutouts too — active access to station listeners via texting is key to keeping the active audience base engaged.

By losing immediacy and access, radio has given up important turf. Today’s listeners know where to go for new music and the latest information. Think about that for a minute. How much more turf will radio give up before it’s too late?

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