Bad podcasting will teach you how to make good radio: Amanda Keller

Traditional radio and the podcast industry should complement and support – rather than cannibalise – each other, a panel of radio talent has argued, but the sometimes-rambling, unprofessional nature of podcasting can teach people how to make good radio, WS FM’s Amanda Keller has said.

Speaking on a panel at Mumbrella360, Keller said: “When you hear a long drifting podcast with no discipline you recognise good radio. There will always be a place for good podcasts, but bad podcasts can teach you how to make good radio.”

2GB’s Erin Molan was certain the two related industries can work together, using the example of The Teacher’s Pet, which 2GB host Ben Fordham became involved with, delivering a boost both to his listener numbers but also to the podcast.

Nothing though, according to Keller, can replace radio.

“Your radio is no longer a jukebox, it’s a connection, it’s content. It’s the human connection you have with your audience that makes the difference and that’s what keeps people listening. We try hard to be funny and entertaining and all those things, but I think we undervalue just being good company for people,” said Keller.

“We set the template for people and their lives and they could be having the worst or best day, but we don’t know that, we’re just there with them.”

She added: “Other formats are important, but they don’t spell the end of radio. People have been predicting the end of radio for years and I just don’t think that’s going to happen. We aren’t going anywhere.”

Nova’s Kate Ritchie agreed with Keller, saying that consumers develop a relationship with radio in a more engaged way than they do with music streaming services, which is why the medium remains relevant to their lives.

2Day FM’s Ash London said the content radio provides alongside music is unique, and something consumers can’t find elsewhere, especially when it’s done by good talent.

“Effective radio is still the number one way Australians discover music. We like to think everyone is listening to Spotify or Apple Music to get their fix, but it’s absolutely not true. People still discover new tracks on the radio, or else they wouldn’t become number one songs,” said London.

“It’s an honour that I get to give context to music that you can’t get from a computer-generated playlist. I can tell you that a producer worked on a track who had also worked on another track for another artist and they used the same sample which might be why this track is familiar to you. A computer can’t do that. But I get to do that. That’s why people still listen to radio.”

The most important thing, the panel agreed, in continuing the life of radio, is investing in good talent, and for both advertisers and industry leaders to have faith in the people behind the microphones.

Radio advertising is at its best when the talent is allowed to have fun with it, and if that isn’t an option then brands would be better off inserting their own ads, rather than trying to ‘force’ hosts to promote a product they don’t love, the panel said.

“We get to know what our listeners want, we know them so well. It’s all about keeping it authentic, having the conversations open between talent and promotional teams and agencies because it works best that way. Don’t try and force something. It’s always awkward if you try and get the talent to make up an ad about something they don’t believe in,” said London.

Molan said 2GB had developed such a longstanding relationship with its advertisers that they now get even more brand awareness than they pay for with the network, because the hosts often turn plugs into part of their regular routines and make them something that stays with the consumers long after a radio ad normally would.

“In the process of us joking around, we’re authentically plugging brands constantly. It’s giving the product a plug, it’s creating good, fun content and it’s because the brands have trusted us to do a good job with it,” said Molan.


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