“You eventually get tired of sending demos.I have completely accepted that you have to know someone in the industry  in order to be hired.”

Towards the end of 2019 I was added to a Whatsapp group with more than fifty diverse and enthusiastic radio operators. From what I can pick up is that they hold a variety of positions across the several sectors in the South African radio business.

It’s a lively group with good banter and a wide variety of discussion points. From time to time I weigh in on elements where I think I may add value, but often I just look and and learn.

Off the back end of a press release, a discussion around recycling talent and breaking into, or getting “the break” into the commercial radio industry came up. It’s certainly a topic that could keep talent and talent managers busy for hours, the elusive answer as to what one must do to get to the next level.

Industry veteran, Lance Rothschild posted a short, yet telling and accurate response. The nature of what he shared holds great value to anyone looking to make a move. Rothschild explains;

“This is a very complex issue.

You need to be mindful of the fact that there is always huge competition for our attention, with hundreds of “applicants” believing that they are going to be the next big thing on our station.

My approach has always been to consider what problem I am trying to solve.

I don’t want to put my station (and reputation) at risk by giving a valuable slot to an unknown entity. I also have to consider how the prospect will resonate with the listeners and how he/she will be received by them. If I am to consider new/unknown talent, I want to hear how the individual is going to fit into my talent mix.

When listening to the demo, I want to hear the prospect’s style, their sense for what they are presenting, their pace, their clarity and diction, their originality, their quality of presentation, the value they will present to the listener, and how their personality comes to the fore.

Remember that most radio managers have access to an abundance of prospects, so make sure your demo is excellent, and that it will stand out.”

Yes, there are other factors including market, format, over-all strategy and skill-set that also influence the decision making process.

As I Programme Manager that hired talent, I always looked for what I referred to as “the magic” (I always rub my thumbs and forefingers together when I say that). Something special, a non-tangible. I would always look at drive and passion, natural talent and skill and the ability to be coached and be a team player, but there would always need to be that extra something, “the magic”.

If you’re looking for a broadcasting job, good luck. If you’re looking to hire someone, good luck. If you have a question about either, contact me, connect@timzunckel.co.za