Attention: Mark Scott
While this post is about what’s happening to radio here in Australia, the issue is one you may have in your country too.
When I’m at home I always have the radio on. I even sleep with the radio under my pillow in case I wake up in the middle of the night. I’m a real radiohead. I love it, and feel like the announcers are my friends and companions.
Maybe I should start using the past tense. I used to love it. One station in particular has mattered to me, the public broadcasting station, Radio National. I’ve learnt so much listening to it over the years, and have been moved many times by its programs.
Recently, however, the government budget for the station was cut, and things have changed.
Several of the best programs have gone. Long hours are now filled with repeats from other hours, or guests are beamed in from the US spouting the latest scientific “data” for some banal detail of everyday life that suddenly needs explaining (America: The Land of Explanation). People with infelicitous voices are plonked down like babysitters in front of the mic.
While it’s regrettable, it’s not surprising.
The station is facing the same choice all media channels are facing, or refusing to face. It can continue to destroy its quality in exchange for continuing as a facsimile of its previous incarnation, or it can transform.
Change will not cut it, never has cut it. Nibbling around the edges, sawing a bit off here, a bit off there, and pretending no-one will notice and that it won’t make a difference.
Transformation is the only option. No, wait, there is another option. It can always die.
What could transformation look like for Radio National? Here’s one possibility off the top of my head. Give unlimited budget to presenters Andrew Ford, Rachel Kohn, Ann Jones, Michael MacKenzie, Waleed Aly (allowing this brilliant thinker and communicator to slip away was criminal), David Rutledge, Amanda Smith, Richard Aedy and Jason Di Rosso to each make three hours of radio per week. Let go the rest of the presenting staff. And then take a stream from NewsRadio or the BBC for the remainder.
Why these presenters? Because each of them has courage. They take risks, they don’t just say the easy thing or the expected thing. They give of themselves.
What about you? How would you divert Radio National from its death throes?
Image: Waleed Aly