Live radio is often lazy.
Both for the station and show, it can mean that there’s no need for show prep or that sales can pop in to the studio and “just give this another mention”.
The benefits of live are of course reacting to things right now, using calls and interacting with listeners. But in how many links does this REALLY happen on stations that are ‘live and local’?
Plus, is it really the best use of a presenter’s time to have them sitting in a studio waiting for songs to finish? You hire talent and then make them hang around for a 20minute sweep to finish. WHAT. A. WASTE.
I run the national children’s radio station Fun Kids. The vast majority of our output is pre-recorded and that can happen between three minutes or three days before it goes out.
We do it this way for a number of reasons. Firstly, because of the age of our target audience (6 to 12s) its useful to make sure that each link is phrased the right way. The presenters make that choice, but it minimises any slip ups or inadvertent strolls down the content cul-de-sac. But really that’s a minor reason. The truth is that voice-tracking allows the station and the presenters to prepare properly what we’re talking about on-air, what we’re promoting and what our key messages are. It also means that when an interview goes out, the video version appears on the website at the same time or if someone talks about a funny video it appears automatically on social media (branded properly with the right links).
For presenters it also means flexibility when they record their shows. I don’t think the main criteria for any job should be the ability to sit in a particular chair for four hours everyday, so for Fun Kids the flexibility of VT’ing widens our available talent pool and allows us to keep hold of great hosts.
Most importantly though, when the presenters are in our building we know that we’re getting the most out of them – creating great content for the radio, podcasts or our video output and not sitting there motionless waiting for songs to finish.
If we need to do live things for a competition etc, that’s fine, we can do that – but we’d rather use live only when it’s essential, at other times, we’re prepared and produced. And voice-tracked.
Matt Deegan is the Creative Director at Folder Media, a radio and new media consultancy that helps people do things they wouldn’t normally do. As well as being the pioneer behind Fun Kids, Matt has also been strongly involved in the UK’s roll-out of DAB Digital Radio.
As a conference speaker, you may have seen Matt speaking at Radio Academy events including the Radio Festival and TechCon, the Radiodays events in the Nordic countries, IBC or even events for the Russian Radio Academy. Matt is also the co-founder of the Next Radio conference and the British Podcast Awards.