A bumbling radio amateur calls the kettle black

This week, I’m standing beside my greenhouse throwing stones. And it must be a very big greenhouse, because it houses an ice rink so large it allows me to skate on the very thin ice it plays host to. And that’s while I’m, in all my pot-like glory, busily calling the kettle black. So let’s just say that I know I’m standing on dangerous ground… and leave the aphorisms there.

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By  Tim Burrowes Published  May 21, 2006

|~||~||~|This week, I’m standing beside my greenhouse throwing stones. And it must be a very big greenhouse, because it houses an ice rink so large it allows me to skate on the very thin ice it plays host to. And that’s while I’m, in all my pot-like glory, busily calling the kettle black. So let’s just say that I know I’m standing on dangerous ground… and leave the aphorisms there. You see, one of our big focuses in this edition is, once again, the woeful state of radio in the region. It comes just days ahead of the Middle East Radio Conference and awards bash. My problem is that I have, in recent weeks, dabbled in radio myself, and demonstrated that while in the Middle East it’s very hard to be good on the radio, it’s not that difficult to get it wrong. I’ve pretty much committed every sin. I’ve said “um” more times than I care to remember. I’ve called an interviewee by the wrong name for half an hour (my apologies to Keshav, not Keshan, of Team Y&R for that one). I’ve waffled for half an hour with no guest after the PR agency who organised it unapologetically cancelled at the last possible moment (thanks to Asda’a PR for that one). I’ve brought Dubai ten minutes of dead air after technical issues rendered the microphones entirely inaudible. I’ve also been caught out by microphones left switched on during the commercial break. I’ve consistently crossed over to the news late. I’ve even watched in open mouthed horror as the computer system crashed, leaving no music, no adverts and no news bulletin to go to, moments after I’ve just said to the live telephone interviewee: “Finally, and briefly…” And I’ve failed to break the will of a robotic apologist for a bank who kept repeating the phrase: “We’re number one; we’re the best; we’re on roller skates,” despite the abusive SMS messages flooding in for her from listeners. Honestly — it was like talking to your bank on the phone. Yes, those Thursday mornings just fly by — for me, if not the listeners. So let’s just say that while we’re able to point to some of the problems of radio, as we do on page 11 today, I’m certainly not overqualified to offer much in the way of solutions. And the biggest problem for radio is the economic model. Low investment in the medium means limited resources for radio stations. Low production values offer the listeners a thin gruel, and potential advertisers little imperative to invest. Those that do, don’t put much budget behind the making of the ads, which then hit the airwaves as laughable, low budget clichés. So their effectiveness is dramatically limited, and listeners tune away. Hopefully some of the international experts at this week’s conference will be able to offer solutions, not only on how to improve the quality of the output, but how to get advertisers to spend more. Even to a self-confessed amateur like me, an obvious place to start is with ratings. Radio so far lacks the ability in the region to have even the most basic of ideas about who is listening to what. No matter how rudimentary, some kind of indication for advertisers of which stations are being tuned to appears to be a vital first step. Advertisers will naturally gravitate to those stations with a loyal audience, rewarding those who have invested in the quality of their output. It will encourage stations to invest further, in turn building up overall audience size, which is after all the very reach that every advertiser craves. And there could even be one more beneficial side effect – it may just force buffoons like me off the air. By the way, this edition marks Campaign Middle East’s first anniversary. My sincere thanks to all of our readers and advertisers for all of the generous support you’ve shown us thus far. ||**||

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