James Cridland’s International Radio Trends: Stories of goodbyes, radio in Afghanistan, and that’s a good question

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.

  • This was a classy exit from the BBC’s local news programme in the East of England from Stewart White. Similarly, Wendy Harmer and Robbie Buck, the breakfast presenters on ABC Radio Sydney and the #2 in a fiercely-competitive market, are also to leave: their final broadcast will be on Dec 10 before the summer break. Doubtless they, too, will be afforded the chance to say goodbye to their audience. Many radio presenters don’t get that chance – for reasons I find odd.

Above: it looks like the manufacturers of this Japanese candy have been reading Valerie Geller’s book “Beyond Powerful Radio”, if the Google Translate of the original is correct. Please be careful not to get boring in the throat is fine advice to radio broadcasters everywhere.

  • Two stories about radio from Afghanistan caught my eye this week – both stories of ineptitude, disappointingly. One about marketing a wrong frequency (or, even worse); the other about not listening and not caring about the output, a frequent refrain in this weekly email.
  • Pierre Bouvard reveals what makes a successful audio ad, and how it differs to video. It’s some good advice; I used to have a rule when I was writing radio ads that I had to mention the client name at least three times, otherwise it wouldn’t be effective. That was a hunch; Bouvard’s advice is based on actual data, so listen to him, not me.
  • A rerun it might be, but this short episode of Freakonomics Radio is worth a listen. It looks into the US cliché used by interviewees everywhere: “That’s a good question”. It turns out it is a US thing, incidentally: the vocal crutch hasn’t made it to the UK at all.
    • Another striking US vocal crutch is the “Thank you for having me” thing, which is along the lines of “Thank you, Fred” “Oh, thanks so much for having me, it’s great to be on your show.” I always like the way Nick Ferrari in the UK avoids any of that tedium – his breakfast show for LBC starts any interview with a short question and an abrupt “good morning” tacked onto the end: “So in the studio is Priti Patel, why are you not going to resign, good morning?”
  • The BBC has published a five-year review of the BBC World Service. Even though the review only covered the first few months of the pandemic, it’s done well – global weekly reach increasing to 351 million from 246 million in 2016). Australia gets World Service programming on ABC News Radio in offpeak hours, as well as a 24-hour feed (with some slightly odd programming choices, including the African breakfast show in the afternoon) on DAB channel SBS Radio 3. I’m proud of the small amount of work I’ve done for the network.


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James Cridland