Sound Desk

Blogmas 23: We need to reassess ideals of success in the radio industry

Upon seeing an announcement on my Facebook about someone’s radio success, I decided that ideals of success in the radio industry would be my topic for today’s blog. This is, of course, my own opinion, but I think it’s an important issue – not only in the radio industry but in the world of work as a whole.

As you are probably aware, I am part of Insanity Radio 103.2FM, a student and community radio station. In my eyes we are a fantastic station, but in terms of awards and high profile jobs we often can be seen as insignificant. The last time we won a presenting award at the Student Radio Awards was in 2006 where we received a Silver Award for Best Male Presenter because of the talents of Phil Noyce. We did gain Highly Commended for Most Improved Station and Best Outreach Project at the I Love Student Radio Awards but the rest of the award success has been strictly off air.

Please do not misunderstand me, nominations and success in Best Technical Achievement and Marketing and Promotions categories are wonderful, but there is a sense that to be the best in radio, you must be a presenter and visibly successful. I disagree. There are hundreds of people wanting to be radio presenters, but off-air roles feature less prominently. Working off-air IS less prominent, but it shouldn’t be any less amazing to other people.

Yet, there is a sense that you are more of a success in radio if you are an on-air presenter. Today there was a post made on a group for student radio stations congratulating one girl for getting the opportunity to present on Radio X. Yet I have a friend who landed a job in travel news almost straight out of university and also works with the BBC and Free Radio but hasn’t been recognised for any of this in the same way. Of course, she also wouldn’t want that and I hope she knows how proud we are of her without needed to have a Facebook post affirming it.

However, I think there is a bias towards pushing people towards the mindset that to be a success in radio you need to be an on-air presenter. Even if you work in the same building and get paid more in an off-air role, you probably won’t be seen as a success in the same way. Perhaps it’s because there are so many people wanting to present that the few successes are worth celebrating, but there remains demand for production roles too.

Overall, I think that ANYONE gaining a job in the radio industry deserves a massive round of applause and recognition. It’s a tough industry, especially within the large companies, and no-one should feel disheartened for not being the next big presenter – after all it is the team behind the visible personality are the ones that really make radio work!

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