James Cridland’s International Radio Trends: Vale Jono Coleman, and the birth of talkRADIO, er, TV

James Cridland, radio futurologist, is a conference speaker, writer and consultant. He runs the media information website media.info and helps organise the yearly Next Radio conference. He also publishes podnews.net, a daily briefing on podcasting and on-demand, and writes a weekly international radio trends newsletter, at james.crid.land.

Above: not from Jono’s time at Virgin Radio, but have this picture of The Proclaimers in the V Festival tent from 2005. Och no!

Jono Coleman OAM died last week. Best known in the UK for the Virgin Radio breakfast show with Russ Williams, he was also on GLR, Heart 106.2, LBC (no, really), BBC London 94.9 and tradies favourite FIX Radio.

While the BBC snootily relegated him to a local news story (and called his co-presenter “Russell Williams”), Jono’s death was quite rightly big news all over Australian media, with obits on 9 NewsABC Australia and many others.

Here’s an hour of him looking back at his life ▸ on David Lloyd’s excellent Radio Moments, with the quote: “I’ve been a very, very lucky little fat bunny.”

  • Jono Coleman was a professional right to the end; the same probably can’t be said for Rex Hunt, a commercial radio sports commentator who decided to drop a commercial break so that he could interview Robert DiPierdomenico, an apparently renowned AFL footballist. Called by the boss and asked why, he ranted for some minutes on-air, before, it seems, “taking leave of his duties at 3AW to focus on his family”.
  • The BBC’s Annual Report for 2021 came out. Usually pounced on by lazy journalists to highlight how much Gary Lineker is paid, Jake Kanter has pulled out a few other data points from it. Particuarly, 1,240 people lost their jobs at the BBC last year.
  • talkRADIO, a UK talkback station, is being promoted as now available on the TV – streaming only, presumably to get round some TV-related content laws. It’s over here at YouTube if you want to take a watch, though is also available on a number of other streaming platforms. They’ve been doing live streams for some time, but this is the first time (for a while, at least) when they’ve been available in a continuous stream. I’m surprised that LBC hasn’t beaten them to this; they’ve great quality video from their studio, too, but only stream sporadically.
  • Talking of which – urgent biscuit news from GB News with Simon McCoy, who must be wondering, along with Colin Brazier, where on earth his career is headed.
  • Sam FM Bristol’s morning show has clearly got a message that biscuit-related tweets are a bad thing, so treated us to this. Three ‘likes’, two retweets, and six replies, I’d note.
  • Good on SCA, the largest Australian commercial broadcaster: they’ve invested in an AI company to power better content recommendations within their app. (Yes, that’s the Chris Johnson you might remember from BBC Radio 1’s website. Top man.) This sort of investment is canny and clever to do, since it has the capability to set your company apart from others.
  • Clever thing for music streaming services from AdsWizz – if you listen to rock, it’ll put rock music behind an ad. Listen to classical? It won’t. Of course, radio’s had that for a while – though there’s an argument to suggest that if Classic FM had an ad with heavy rock music behind it, it might stand out a little more.
  • Here’s a clever and bright thing from the ABC in Australia – they’ve added audiobooks to the ABC Listen app (the equivalent to BBC Sounds). “The titles showcase a collection of Australian fiction and non-fiction stories, written and narrated by an exciting and diverse range of contemporary Australian voices.” As Sydney goes into another week of lockdown, it seems a really good idea to give another reason to download their radio app.

Thank you to Hausa Dictionary, Richard Hilton, and Brun Audio Consulting for your ongoing support of this newsletter. I’m very grateful to you.

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James Cridland