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How Digital Changes The Lives Of Talent


I thought the world became a better place with e-mail. It was fantastic; Id write something at my desk and within a minute or two, Id get a response. No Telex, no Twix, no fax nothing with an x, just e-mail. But then I saw what happened when people didnt edit their comments, and thoughts that would never have left their mouths were leaving their fingers. So, after some embarrassing sharing with the universe, talent in particular became more cautious.

Still, e-mail was a wonderful addition to their lives. Everything was easier. Content was instantly accessible, with news and topical information just a few clicks away, and contact with the audience could be made instant and personal with little effort.

Before e-mail, you relied on request lines for instant feedback, says Tom Griswold, co-host of the syndicated Bob & Tom Show. You had to weed through phone calls to get callers with interesting comments. With e-mail, you were suddenly hearing from a much broader audience. We started hearing from groups of listeners who never would have waited for request lines to be answered. So the brainless, up-all-night headbanger with a lot of time on his hands calling to request Ozzy for the 40th time was replaced by a brain surgeon writing us a short e-mail to add some substance to a news story about the brain.

E-mail was great. But when my clients began asking my opinion about blogging, Facebook, Twitter, and the rest, I cant begin to tell you the panic that set in. Nothing good could come of people who speak for a living expressing their opinions, thoughts, and feelings in writing. I could see lawsuits flying through the air and defamation case being filed hourly.

The chance of someone having a recording of any inappropriate spoken words was slim to none, but I dont think everyone understands that the written word doesnt disappear. Once its on the Internet, its there forever. No good could come of social media. But even after Id tried to acquire liability policies for each of my clients and begged them not to write anything, all hell broke loose. Everyone was writing to everybody, in every format known and about-to-be-known, and everything they wrote was being transmitted everywhere.

They were posting pictures to Facebook (ugh). On Twitter, people were sharing their daily habits and TMI (too much information) became an everyday acronym. And the best part was that none of the broadcast companies were willing to indemnify the talent. In fact, station owners told talent that social media was part of the job, but if they made a mistake, they were on their own.

Its only recently after a decade of cautioning my clients and warning them to be careful like they were still teenagers that Ive become somewhat comfortable with social media. And its a good thing, because the warnings werent making much difference: Social media blew through the world, and our industry, like a tornado. For talent, its become the lifeblood of their shows. On the air, after the show, social media is 24/7.

Nationally syndicated personality Phil Hendrie says, Digital has allowed a new level of freedom for radio talent. In my case, I now own my material, which I can air, market, and share as I see fit. I also produce a five-day-aweek podcast for free that airs only on digital platforms like iTunes. Videocasting is also much in demand, so we have PhilTV, where I talk to my subscribers in character, go through show prep, work on sketches, etc., and its all done uncensored. All of that generates revenue, and is strictly digital.

But as enthusiastic as talent may be, social media has added enormously to their workload. Although some of the work is handled by sidekicks, sports guys, or producers, its the talents name in the byline or in the copy.

Kevin Roston, co-host of WLDI (Wild 95.5)/West Palm Beachs Kevin, Virginia, and Jason, observes, Our show has changed radically with the rise of social media. No longer is our connection to the audience defined by a 6-to-10 a.m. time frame our communication and connection is now constant. We are always top-of-mind. This has created an added demand for content and an even greater challenge, as it feels like we are now living every second of our lives in front of our audience. Though it has added new challenges, we are finding that advertisers are now looking for personalities who are not only connecting with an audience on air, but who are also connecting with an audience through social media.

Social media is the primary promotional tool for your show, with subscribers in the thousands, friends who follow your every move, and readers who want to know as much about you as possible. You have the opportunity to reach, reinforce and remind your audience why they need to listen to your show. But keep in mind: If the stations and broadcast companies wont stand behind these messages, theres potential trouble for talent in every word.

Lisa Miller is president of Miller Broadcast Management
in Chicago and can be reached at or 312-454-1111.

(5/5/2014 12:33:34 AM)
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(10/26/2013 9:43:28 AM)
tAXZB3 Looking forward to reading more. Great article. Will read on...

- NY
(3/30/2013 10:41:08 AM)
As someone who has neither a Facebook or a Twitter account (who would I want to bother to "follow" and, more to the point, who the heck would want to follow me?), I'll not comment on the digital aspect of this other than to note the 24/7 colonization by corporate "masters" of individual's lives.

But TMI is NOT an acronym. An acronym is pronounceable. TMI is an initialism.

Just sayin'.

- Steve
(3/27/2013 12:50:00 AM)
would urge talent to read any feedback through social media at their own risk.
Plus, relying on the blatherings of people who used to be the ones who phoned radio stations as a source for anything other than satire and ridicule is equally dangerous.

If listeners are to be allowed, never mind invited to program the radio station - it's time to move on. If it is the case that talent is fostering this listener behavior to replace actual show-prep, then it's time for the talent to go into Customer Service at a retail store - a place where it is the customer's right to dish out abuse.

- Ronald T. Robinson

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