Welcome to the third edition of SoCast’s Faces for Radio, where we interview people from across the radio industry about digital. This time we are joined by Dave Farough, a programming and talent coach with an impressive resume, working as the VP of Brands, Programming and Media at Corus Entertainment.
Listen to the full recording of our interview on Soundcloud or see the abridged transcript of our interview below.
In case you missed the first two editions of Faces for Radio, you can find them here:
SoCast: Hello everyone, this is Symon from SoCast. Welcome to this month’s edition of Faces for Radio, where we feature personalities from across the radio industry and talk about digital for radio. I’m here today with Dave Farough, who works with on-air talent and programming to improve their content and presentations, as well as digital content for radio. Dave, thank you for joining us.
DF: Thank you.
SoCast: Referencing an article that you wrote back in June, “If I Had a Clean Sheet of Paper”, where you talked about the concept of “talent on demand” - getting your best radio personalities to provide content to be played throughout all hours of the day. You don’t just want your morning people on from 5:30-9:00am...How can you actually go about getting your talent to provide more content to supply other parts of the day?
DF: You just have to sort of free them up from the traditional schedule that radio announcers live by - mornings, afternoon drive, evenings and nights. You have to get out of that mindset. It’s 2017 and consumers want their content when they want it, not when we give it to them.
So, if someone is a huge fan of The Roz and Mocha Show on KiSS in Toronto, they should be able to hear Roz and Mocha whenever they want, not just between 6 and 9 in the morning. So, to do that, we tell Roz and Mocha that you are no longer just the morning show, you are the stars of KiSS and your job is to create five great pieces of content in a 24-hour period and send it to the program director. The program director then takes each piece of content and inserts it into the schedule the same as he would any great song and play it multiple times per day. So instead of that great piece of content being heard once at 6:15 in the morning, I’m going to play that great piece of content consistently throughout the schedule so that all of the audience has a chance to hear it no matter when they tune in.
SoCast: If I’m hearing you correctly, that sounds like a major disruption to the format that many stations already have.
DF: Yeah, a typical morning show is a couple of songs in a row, then 2-3 minutes of content, then some commercials, then a couple more songs, then some more content. So a typical morning show is doing two or three or four content breaks per hour. So instead of just having them doing three or four pieces of content per hour over three hours between 6 and 9, we’re having them do content at any time during the day and putting it throughout all the hours.
The scary part for radio operators in this is that it disrupts the whole sales model, and that’s the biggest challenge. Typically, radio is sold in day parts, so our sales people go out and they talk to a client and they say “Hey, how would you like to buy our morning show?” or “How would you like to buy mid-day to midnight from Wednesday to Sunday?” We’re selling day parts instead of stars. We need to start selling the stars of the station.
So, if I’m Pete’s Hammer Shop, I own a hammer shop in downtown Oakville and I love KiSS and I love Roz and Mocha, I want to sponsor Roz and Mocha, I can sponsor them anytime that they’re creating content. So if you go to YouTube and you’re watching a YouTube video with them, they’re going to be holding one of my hammers. Or, if they’re on at 7 in the evening, you might hear, “And now back to Roz and Mocha brought to you by Pete’s Hammer Shop.” My ads, my brand and my content and the products that I sell are going to be part of their content, rather than just running 30 second commercials. We have to get out of that mindset of just running 30s and weather sponsorships, and we really need to think differently about how we incorporate clients’ brands into our content.
SoCast: Coming back to something you said a little bit earlier, giving people content when they want it. I’ll see my Facebook feed filled with news exactly as it happens, so it makes sense to have your best talent deliver content to your audience that way, instead of having to wait until the morning show the next day.
DF: We keep saying that the advantage of radio is that it’s live. If that’s truly an advantage, let’s give our best stars a chance to do stuff as live or as timely as possible. So if something fantastic happens, if there’s a concert that’s playing on Yonge street in downtown Toronto and it’s free, I want my best personalities talking about the fact that the band’s doing a sound check and that they’re setting up now. I want to feel like I’m live at that show. If my favorite stars of the format are only on the air between 6 and 9 in the morning, it’s hard for me to get that feeling.
SoCast: So it seems like there would be a fair amount of risk involved with moving to a new type of format like this. How can radio companies go about mitigating this risk?
DF: Here’s the reality - companies that are risk-averse are going out of business. Sears Canada was risk-averse; it’s now out of business. Toys-R-Us, very risk-averse, now out of business and the list goes on and on and on. If we don’t start trying new things and launching educated experiments, doing R&D. I mean, go to Apple and say to Tim Cook, “You should cut out all of your R&D budget”, he would probably laugh at you. But radio, has done it. We’ve cut out all of our R&D. We’re not trying new things. I mean, in some markets we are.
To be fair, there are some very smart radio people who are still trying things in new markets, but we need to try them in a mass sort of way for the industry. We need to get serious about this stuff, because it’s not about saving individual radio stations. It’s about growing the industry of radio to be competitive again. Radio is still doing well, especially in smaller markets, but it can do better. We can be so much better than we are now but only if we’re not afraid to try new things.
SoCast: You’ve talked about finding people who are popular on social media from outside of radio and putting them on the air. Can you provide me with any examples of how radio has been able to translate that success from social media to radio? What are the guidelines that radio stations can follow to do that?
DF: I’ll give you this example, and this was still when social media was very new. I was programming Q107, a classic rock station in Toronto and we were looking for someone new to host the afternoon show. Instead of just going the regular route and hiring a radio announcer from another classic rock station from another city and just plunking them on Q107, we took it from the opposite approach. We thought “Okay, who loves classic rock and who is a personality that our listeners could really relate to and really enjoy listening to?” We searched different areas and we found a musician, a bona-fide Canadian rock star to do the show and it was Kim Mitchell.
So we didn’t necessarily find him through social media, but it’s the same concept. We knew of Kim, we knew that he resonated with the audience. We came from outside of radio, he was doing something else, but we took him and we put him on radio, telling his great stories that the audience could relate to and it was a huge success.
If you have a radio station that targets 30 year old males, who are the YouTube stars, or who are the people on social media that are really resonating with that target market with the content that they’re creating on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram or whatever? Let’s find those people, reach out to them and see if they’d have any interest in doing a show on radio. 99% of the time they do have interest. Most people don’t see radio as a bad thing. Most people really love radio and they would love the opportunity to be on radio. We, as radio people, just need to be confident and go and ask them to be on the air.
SoCast: What are things that programmers can do to make listening to radio on smartphones more of a habit for consumers?
DF: It’s a mind shift for the consumers. When the consumer thinks about listening to radio, they think about that thing that’s in the dashboard of a car. When they have their smartphone outside of the car, they’re used to watching YouTube or listening to Spotify, or whatever other habits they’ve developed since they’ve had their smartphone. So, we need to make it a habit for them to think about radio when they open their smartphone.
How about we stop calling radio “radio” and we start calling it “live audio streaming?” If you want to listen to your favorite live audio stream, here’s how you do it on your smartphone. And by the way, that other thing that’s in the dash of your car, you can also listen to it that. We need to constantly use the lingo and we need to make live audio streaming “cool” to consumers so that they think “Oh, I listens to stream like Spotify, and I listen to archived streams called podcasts, maybe I’ll listen to a live audio stream from Roz and Mocha.”
SoCast: How can radio use social media to extend its reach and what are some of the more effective strategies to do this?
DF: It’s just about maximizing all of the platforms. We know that people under the age of 30 watch a ton of YouTube. How can our stars create compelling YouTube videos that people are going to watch. This helps to create a bond between the audience and the personalities. Then we can say “By the way, you can also hear the personality on that radio station.”
We need to go towards where the people live, work and play. What devices are they using? What platforms are they using? Let’s create really good content for those platforms and build relationships with those consumers. If it’s through Twitter, let’s use that. If they love Facebook, let’s make sure we’re creating good Facebook content. Let’s create content across those platforms and then use that to draw people to the radio station instead of trying to do it the other way around.
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