Talk Radio not immune to online challenge: Valerie Geller

While it is generally accepted that AM talk radio in Australia is more resistant to online alternatives than FM music, in the United States there is growing concern that talk shows are springing up on the net and fragmenting radio’s audience.

“Talk radio is NOT dead, but it needs to fight harder,” says International Talk Radio consultant, Valerie Geller (pictured).
“Listeners can get personalities, entertainment and information other ways – online, and on their mobile devices, as well as radio. Talk audiences are finding their “talk needs”  satisfied in other ways – they’ve found religious talk formats and many have discovered public radio shows such as The Moth or This American Life, or have found podcasts such as the hugely popular Ted Talks. Five years ago all this content could have had a logical home in some form of talk show on radio.
“Talk radio is also behind in  the digital space. The audience is there. Stations that have embraced digital and have invested are winning,” says Geller.
While it is a given that radio needs to be on every platform where listeners may be found, simply being there is not enough. As always, the content has to be compelling.
“Mainstream talk audiences, weary of boring talk, have migrated elsewhere.  A lot of what is on the air has become polarizing “yes/no” right /wrong political talk – problem without real solution or dogma without storytelling or humor. That’s when you lose audiences. 
“To win our audience back and to save talk, hire personalities that can attract audiences with unique content and who can make the emotional connection. The core of successful talk radio is having a conversation – it’s personality. It’s people connecting with one another in an entertaining way and it is NOT BORING.  If it’s boring, the audience leaves. 
“Talk radio is and always has been, in the “story business,” says Geller. “True personalities are surviving in the marketplace. As a talk show host trainer and coach, I work with thriving talk personalities all over the planet. Admittedly the most fun for me  – is working with local stations or networks where the personalities are given the resources to thrive.
The most successful shows all have one thing going for them –  engaging personalities who are having fun – and who enjoy doing radio. The medium is not dead – personalities, great storytellers, humor and connection to people/community – that will NEVER die,” says Valerie Geller.

Valerie Geller is: President of Geller Media International Broadcast Consultants, works to help communicators become more powerful in 30 countries for news, talk, information and personality. Through consulting and individual coaching for news and talk talent, Geller finds and develops personalities, leads “Creating Powerful Radio” and “Communicate Powerfully” workshops and seminars for radio and TV broadcasters, internet radio and podcasters. Geller is the recipient of the Conclave’s 2010 Rockwell Lifetime Achievement Award and is the author of four books about radio including her latest from Focal Press Beyond Powerful Radio – A Communicator’s Guide to the Internet Age. To contact Valerie Geller for a one-on-one coaching or consulting appointment, or for information on the “Powerful Radio” seminars and workshops, call USA 212 580-3385


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