Tuesday, March 10, 2009

catching up

Okay, I can't possibly post about everything that's been going on, so I'll do it as I can. Top of my list: radio training.

I spent 7 hours at KBOO last weekend attending two different trainings on how to host music shows and also how to host public affairs shows (I'm planning a public affairs-style show on the Yiddish Hour later this month about the eco-kashrut movement; more on that later).  I find myself thinking a lot about one thing our intrepid trainer, Marilyn Pittman, kept saying, which is that as hosts our responsibility is to take care of our audience. 

What does that mean? Well, several things. For one, it means that you need to give your audience a reason to tune in and a reason to keep listening to you. You need to sound competent and comfortable and conversational but the irony is that you can't actually talk the way you do in regular conversation because THIS IS RADIO. You just have to SOUND like you're having a regular conversation, but there's a whole lotta craft that goes into sounding conversational. It doesn't happen by accident. It takes preparation and warming up and a lot of time. It takes training, and being serious about your work, even if your show is comedy. Maybe even especially if your show is comedy.

Another thing about taking care of the audience is to remember that only 1 in 100 people actually calls a radio show. In other words, the callers are not your audience. Your audience is the other 99 people listening; it's easy to assume the callers represent the audience, but they don't, esp. on public affairs and news shows. At KBOO that's an important point to remember, because people who tend to call KBOO shows think they have a right to rant and ramble simply because it's community radio, and everyone should have a right to weigh in.

So now I'm going to say something that won't go over well in some circles, but this is my blog, so what the hell. Being a host is a privilege. Being on the radio is a privilege. I take that seriously. And I take a lot of time to prepare my show, both because I'm still pretty new at it and also because the audience deserves to hear a quality product. I'm a radio consumer as well as a host; I listen to the radio many hours a day. I'm trying to make the kind of show I'd like to hear (I hope other people like to hear it too).

What isn't going to go over with some folks is my beef with people who don't take their hosting duties that seriously, who pride themselves on not sounding "professional," (and they say it like that, with finger quotes), who ramble and um and er and clearly just rolled out of bed and into the air room. Their shows sound like crap, and even if the content is interesting I find it really annoying, bordering on disrespectful. I'm not referring to anyone in particular, but if you tune into KBOO at any given time, particularly on the weekday public affairs shows, you'll hear what I mean. The audience deserves better. I'm the audience. So are you. If the prime job of the host is to take care of the audience, then the audience for these shoddily-done shows is ill-served indeed.

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