Features

Why politicians twerk on TV and rap on radio

During this mock Q&A session from the Radio Alive Conference, a panel of TV and radio journalists, politicians and commentators discuss screen fatigue, using FM radio to court the swing vote and that time Clive Palmer twerked on radio. 

According to politician Michelle Rowland, no FM station is going to get a politician on “unless they thought they could do something entertaining.” She tells the audience: “one of the reasons why politicians are starting to go on FM is because, let’s face it, that’s predominantly where the swing voters are.”

Senator Mitch Fifield blames the growing tendency for politicians to attempt to seem more human on Peter Costello. He says: “That all started when he did the macarena with Kerri-Anne Kennerley on The Today Show. I’m just grateful that neither Malcolm nor Bill have taken to twerking, as Clive Palmer did.”

“I think what it shows is they’re human,” he adds. “Yes, middle age politicians are dags – you demonstrate that you’re a dag, you show that you’re human – you go to where the people are. Radio is where the audience is, FM radio is a different segment of that audience, and as a politician you want to talk to a broad cross-section of the community, so you’ve got to do different platforms.”

Michelle Guthrie, managing director ABC, thinks attempting to reaching an increasingly fragmented audience is often the reason behind all this ‘daggyness’. She says: “For us, discussions around policy and big interviews with members of parliament are really around 7.30… but then there’s social, and when you see how much so many members of parliament are really using social, whether it’s Facebook live or other ways of engaging with the electorate, you know, you have to.”

The panel also discuss the growing desire to avoid screen fatigue and to spend time away from phones and TVs.

“We’re starting to get sick of always looking at a little screen, or looking at a big screen, and that’s a real opportunity for radio and for podcasters,” says commentator Jamila Rizvi.

For Fifield, the only respite comes when stepping on a plane. “The only haven for most of us these days is when you step onto a plane and no one can contact you, and you can’t contact anyone else,” he says.

“You’re about to lose that,” interjects Trioli, to which Fifield replies: “Well, I hope the communications minister won’t let that happen.”

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