Dear Radio: Radio awards a good thing
by Paulo Dias (@therealptp) In the early part of my career, there were no formal or regular award shows that recognised excellence in radio and that were judged by radio people and for radio people. The local radio awards, previously sponsored by MTN and now by Liberty, gives the industry a chance to deservedly pat ourselves on the back.
We spend 364 days of the year selling our souls to advertisers and putting listeners first, very seldom taking the time to reflect on what we are doing well. So, over the entry period and for one night, it’s a great opportunity to take stock of your respective station free from RAMs, ROI, social media engagement and listener turnout and just enjoy being in a room with people who love radio as much as you do. The people you expect to do well do well — but the upstarts, especially in the digital space, and the next generation use the awards as a chance to tell the industry they are coming if, in fact, they haven’t already arrived.
The excitement was clear across the airwaves, social media and the inexplicably large number of radio-focused Whatsapp groups I’m on last week as the finalists for the 2018 Liberty Radio Awards were announced. Stations and presenters promptly took their moment to announce ‘‘What an honour it is to be nominated’’ ahead of the awards evening in Johannesburg on 14 April 2018.
In his press release announcing the nominees, Lance Rothschild, Liberty Radio Awards CEO, claimed that, played back-to-back, the entries “would amount to more than one week of non-stop listening”. Since modern radio listeners don’t have anywhere near that sort of attention span, let me help break down some of the key categories and, no, I’m not foolish enough to try predict winners.
I’m a big fan of what is happening on campus and community stations, and the respective categories raise some interesting match ups.
Tuks FM has long been a hot bed of radio talent and, once again, it reflects in the nominations with strong showings in the key categories of Best Breakfast and Afternoon Drive shows, along with nominations for the hosts of those shows.
Community-station-wise, Hot 91.9 (which broadcasts predominantly to the northern suburbs of Joburg) dominates all the categories it appears in. I don’t foresee a repeat of the virtual clean sweep of last year but, surely, it can’t be long before it makes that move to a fully-fledged commercial station. It goes without saying that it’s easier said than done, for reasons outside of its control.
East Coast is strong in all its categories but it’s also nice to see good showings from Gagasi, which will push East Coast over the next few years as the premium commercial station in that market.
David O’Sullivan’s nomination for Best Breakfast Presenter shows what a shrewd move Kaya FM has made putting him at the helm of its station, while nominations for Martin and Tumi on Jacaranda FM and Darren Simpson and his team prove that their respective moves have been the right ones.
The Content Producer category has caught my attention. With content being the absolute buzzword/drinking game prompt over the past half-a-decade, credit must go to the likes of Cape Talk, Gagasi, Power and Umhlobo Wenene, less-heralded stations owning this category.
There’s a nice lineup in the Radio Documentary and Dramas sections as well. This type of programming will absolutely be the future of audio consumption and the stations buying into them and putting them forward will reap the benefits far beyond awards.
I love that internet radio and podcasts have their own category; similar to my previous point, this is the distribution channel of the future. Both media have sat in a bit of limbo with high-profile ‘failings’ in both sectors but it’s refreshing that the radio industry has embraced this, rather than fear them and write them off — traditional listening and online listening must live together instead of fighting each other, and welcoming the digital in-laws into the radio family is great to see.
A real understanding
Really interesting things are happening at The Eye (mainly because Jon Savage is beyond interesting). It’s nominated for Best Internet/Online Radio Show but, across all its programming, there is a real understanding of what audio consumption should become.
I also love the nominees in the Podcast category: supported by high-profile players, well-produced, listener-first-advertiser-somewhere down the line, and storytelling that podcasting is crying out for.
The awards show, as mentioned, happens on 14 April 2018. As far as I know, it won’t be live-streamed on Facebook, it won’t be on air and, for one night only, we’ll do radio for ourselves, if you don’t mind.
Full disclosure: Two of Paulo Dias’s colleagues at Ultimate Media have shows on Hot 91.9, one on breakfast and one on afternoon drive.
- Liberty Radio Awards finalists announced
- Dear Radio: The return of the annual South African radio awards
Paulo Dias (@therealptp) is the head of creative integration at Ultimate Media. He works closely with the programming teams at leading radio stations to help implement commercial messaging into their existing formats. He contributes the regular column, “Dear Radio”, looking at the changing radio landscape in South Africa, to MarkLives.com
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