Video couldn’t kill the radio star and neither will podcasts: Smallzy celebrates 20 years

This month marked a huge milestone for Nova Entertainment's radio host Kent 'Smallzy' Small, who celebrates 20 years on air, while his show, 'Smallzy's Surgery' celebrates ten years as Australia's most popular evening radio show. Speaking to Mumbrella, he reflects on his time in radio, and spoke about what he expects in the future.

A household name, Smallzy has brought tears, joy and laughter to Australian radios for 20 years.

He has interviewed some of the world’s best artists and talent – including Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, Eminem – name an artist, and you can bet he’s spoken to them.

But, 20 years on, he never expected to have the longevity and success he’s seen.

Kent Small - Nova FM National Night Show - Smallzy's Surgery - NOVA Entertainment | LinkedIn

Smallzy with Taylor Swift

“No is the short answer,” he jokes.

“When I first got the job at 19 [years old], I never would have imagined I’d still be doing it 20 years later. It was so foreign, the idea of doing it all your life.”

He describes his journey in radio like a cliché – a roller coaster: “There’s ups and downs, and you end up going one way and then go back another way, and it takes you on different paths.

“But for the past 11 or 12 years, the Surgery has been my home and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it,” he adds.

Small said he was one of the first in Australian radio to have a show of his own, and that was “so exciting”.

“I’ve always loved radio, always loved the idea of having a show, so when I got that opportunity, which had never really been done before at Nova, I jumped at it.”

In the most recent GfK Radio360 Survey, Smallzy’s Surgery topped the evening slot again, cementing it as Australia’s most popular evening show.

Smallzy’s Surgery celebrates 10 years as Australia’s most popular evening show

“I like consistency”, he jokes. “Particularly if I’m winning.

“Nova had never been number one at night, I was the little engine that could when I took on the show. And we’ve really built the momentum since them, and the slow growth to where we are now has been amazing.”

Every year, Smallzy interviews hundreds of celebrities and artists, saying “it’s in the thousands by now”.

“I think we’ll have something like 245 celebrities each year,” he adds.

For his 20-year anniversary, celebrities including the likes of Ed Sheeran, Billie Eilish and The Jonas Brothers congratulated him with a special surprise video.

Thinking about the future of radio, Smallzy argues it will remain strong despite the constant competition from podcasting, music streaming and more.

“There’s been a few different competitors to radio over the time, so I’ll give you the same answer that I’ve given about Spotify or Apple Music, or before that it was iTunes and the iPod,” he says.

“When the iPod came out, people asked if it was going to kill radio. But now, 20 years after that launched, radio is bigger and better than it’s ever been, right? It’s more relevant that it ever has been before.

He continues: “I mean people have always worried that other audio formats will kill radio – for crying out loud, in the 80s The Buggles released that song ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’ and it was the first music video shown on MTV in the US, and people really thought video would kill radio, but here we are.

“I could argue the same thing about podcasting now. Sure, it’s really popular and it’s a great way to cut your teeth into the audio industry, but there will always be people who want to listen to the radio. They offer different advantages and opportunities and it really just depends on what the listener wants and needs.”

Smallzy's Surgery | Podcast on Spotify

Smallzy’s Surgery is available as a podcast too

Joking about a “Gen Z meme” he saw, Smallzy says: “The meme is a Gen Z kid saying: ‘Is there a podcast that can actually play live news and is there a way for us to interact with the host?’ and the comment from someone older says: ‘It’s called radio’. And I just found that so funny.”

He says that at the end of the day, the success of radio is its versatility.

“You can get it in the car, you can turn it on at home, you can open up an app, you can hear whatever the favourite songs are right now if you want to listen to music.

“And then when the songs finish, there’s someone talking through that, and the listener knows at the other end, the person is right there, right now. They can call if if they want, they can text in and chat. It’s versatile and interactive,” he continues.

“While I love my podcasting friends, that’s something you cannot do with podcasts.”


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