[DAY Six] Video didn’t kill the radio star

Video killed the radio star…. (But it actually didn’t. It strengthened her and here’s why). 

“But don’t you wanna be on TEEVee?” 

I was at a national radio and television news directors conference and a new colleague I was chatting with couldn’t understand why I wasn’t keen to make the leap from the mic to the camera. 

“To be really good at tv, you have to be good at radio first,” I said. 

He laughed (as they always did). Shook his head and moved on unconvinced. 

I eventually made the leap (and immediately knew why I had resisted, but that’s a story for another time). 

But the simple fact remains that video did in NO WAY kill the radio star and here’s why. 

Television, whether it’s documentary, interview style or the basic evening news relies on tying words to pictures. 

In fact, there’s a saying in basically every television newsroom – ‘no pictures, no story’. 

In other words, if the shooter didn’t capture the images, it never happened. The reporter is going to have a VERY hard time getting pictureless details into a story passed the editor. 

But in radio?

No pictures? Umm, okay. 

Radio is theatre of the mind. 

And functioning as a storyteller in that space immediately means that you have to be able to use your own faculties to bring someone into the facts of the day (or the documentary or interview) with nothing but ONE SENSE – hearing. 

This makes radio reporters incredible writers. They are keen observers. Small details in scripting make a humongous difference to the tone and cadence of a story. 

Details matter because you don’t have visuals to rely on ever. 

So the joke that to be good at teevee you need to be good radio is not entirely true. 

What I meant was – good radio people make excellent television people because they are already so capable of weaving a story without visuals. The captured pictures are like icing on the cake. 

But the reverse? Throwing a television person on the radio? It’s usually a disaster disguised as a learning curve. 

I mean, take the recent layoffs in the Canadian media landscape – even just the play by play sports fiasco with The Toronto Blue Jays. The play-by-play guys are now television baseball guys being simulcast on the radio. 

My husband is a die hard and lifelong fan of the game and the team and even he is frustrated when he listens to the game now. They miss details. They aren’t fast enough on the descriptions. They get too caught up in forgetting half the audience cannot see what they see. 

The same thing goes for the shit show that were the cuts at Bell Media across the country back in February. Did you know we now have people reporting on television and then turning around, flipping a switch and delivering that same newscast on top tier radio stations across the country? 

(Last week, the anchor said to me over my Google Home app “As you can see behind me…” No I can’t fucking see behind you. Tell me the story, KYLE.”) 

I digress. 

Video never killed the radio star. 

Big corporations? Maybe. 

But the good news is, there’s a way to get that fix of great storytelling and it’s growing every single day. 

The statistics proving Canadians and Americans are not only embracing, but RELYING on podcasting for news, entertainment and education can no longer be ignored. 

We are wired for sound based and audio storytelling. Our brains love it. 

We are moving back towards the beauty of theatre of the mind. 

And I don’t mind one bit. 


The Rest of the Story is a project of love and commitment to showing up on this site every day for 90 days; sharing honest opinions, thoughts and observations. Comments are welcome.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *