Don’t hire DJs hire storytellers: Barry Keohane at #RadioAsia

When everyone is on every platform and we are all using the latest technology and techniques, what will separate us?

Barry Keohane thinks that magic ingredient will be storytelling.

In a Radio Asia conference session titled Don’t hire DJs, Hire Storytellers, Keohane advised conference delegates to put people on air who have stories to tell.

“It is even harder to engage with an audience now with so much media competition about, but great storytellers will help you do that,” he said.

“What’s the difference between a DJ and a storyteller?

A DJ backannounces time temp and intros the song, but a storyteller is different, they create a story that takes the listener on a journey. They are 3 dimentional, they have depth. It is easier to teach a storyteller to be a great DJ than to teach a DJ to be a storyteller.”

Having worked in China, Keohane had to overcome the popular practice in Chinese radio of hiring people just because they looked good on tv promos, posters and online. He says that more is needed than just good looks and simple DJ techniques. “Judge great talent by how they make you feel, not what they say,” says Keohane, who is now Program Manager of an ABC station in Australia.

Great storytellers are real, likeable, entertaining, interesting and have a life, according to Keohane. They have charisma and are willing to talk about their life experiences.

“You may find them in comedy clubs, on youtube, driving a taxi… you won’t find them sitting at home playing XBox,”  he said.

Radio program directors need to have your eyes and ears open for the next great talent.

He gave the example of Lisa and Pete’s drive show in Perth. “Pete had a passion for radio but actually worked selling fish, but then we identified him as a great storyteller, so we put him to the radio. They are now the number one drive show in the market.”

Storytellers often create story arcs, an audio journey across a few days based on something happening in the community or a real life event that has been created by the on air team.

“A story arc takes listeners from beginning, through middle then end. it’s a great technique to make listeners come back tomorrow,” said Keohane.

To build a good story arc, Keohane advises to start at the end. “Make sure you know what you want to achieve and work back from that in your planning.”

He gave an example of a story arc he did with his breakfast team when working at MyFM in China. It turned out that the female presenter did pole dancing to keep fit. In a production meeting they decided that this slice of life coudl be a story arc and tha the end of the story would be for her male co host to go pole dancing with her. So they worked on a story arc across five days where she would talk about her fitness routine on day 1, then get listener reaction, then later some one would call in to challenge her co-host to go pole dancing and the final piece in the story would happen on the fifth day (click pic to enlarge).


“It came about because the presenters shared a bit of their lives and we created a story out of it,” he said.

Keohane also advised that DJ competitions about music and dance don’t find storytellers. If you’re going to do a competition make sure you also ask them to tell stories as part of the competition, that way you will find out if they have a life and have the talent to be able to share it.







Tags: | |