This article first appeared on Facebook on 30 May 2019, posted and published by Nkox Leader (FB Handle). Nkox is the Breakfast Show Host on CUT 105.8 FM in Bloemfontein. I love it when radio practitioners, especially young professionals, share their thoughts and ideas in written form.
"If you want to cultivate greatness out of a jock, give them creative freedom" - Nkox Lindazwe
In my view, when it comes to radio programming jocks should be placed on shows based on a jock’s ability, personality & lifestyle. In my experience of managing presenters previously, jocks generally performed better when they did shows where they didn’t have to try hard or adapt. Although adapting often affords the jock an opportunity to diversify their skill set and also learn in the process, we can’t shy away from the fact that if the radio show is part of your lifestyle, even prep becomes a bit of a breeze; your confidence & passion when broadcasting is even felt because you are generally talking about things that interest you.
In order for this approach to work effectively it requires the interests and lifestyles of the jocks to somewhat reflect those of the station’s listener & station/show brand identity, otherwise you run the risk of losing your core listenership & brand identity. It also helps immensely if the jock has the radio basics covered(understands radio fundaments like mastering the desk,respecting airtime, time-bound etc). T-bo Touch(at Metro), Ba2Cada(at Lesedi FM),Xolani Gwala(702), Rob Marawa(at Metro), Gareth Cliff(at 5FM), MacG & Mo Flava(YFM) etc...all these guys were able to make an impact in the given time slots in their respective shows & stations because their lifestyles and interests outside the medium, at the time, were not far off from the shows they were doing. This being based on my observation through their social media platforms.
Don’t get me wrong, the jocks still need a show producer, this show producer has a dialectic relationship with the jock when it comes to show prep. Since the jock lives an extension of the show outside the broadcast bounds, the producer somewhat relies on the jock for stimulating show prep ideas,i.e. the jock is most likely to know what’s relevant in the market at that particular moment, forecast trends and have the network within that particular cultural lifestyle to enhance prep through ‘expert’ analysis. The producer’s job is then to use his/her prerogative to filter the content ideas brought forward by the jock and structure them within the show in an organized manner,not only that,but to also enhance the creative elements within the proposed ideas. Most jocks tend to be egotistical in nature,thus mutual respect and discipline is required in order for this approach to work effectively. Often I find that it only works if the jock is somewhat intimidated a bit by the producer,because of the work-ethic displayed by the producer.
Coming back to my initial point...If someone is well-read,charismatic, good sense of overall general-knowledge, a bowl of energy, and is conscious about social and pop culture issues,then that person would probably do well on a drive show(morning or afternoon).Even the music that is scheduled on the show must reflect the overall feel of the show,which is highly influenced by the jock’s brand identity. YFM used to execute this better than any other radio station in the early 2000s,because they were not afraid to take risks when it came to their programming. The music you would hear on a drive time show that was done by Dineo Ranaka and Bujy was different to the drive time music you would hear when the show was driven by Mo Flava, primarily because they understood that the content and the music on the show is an extension of the personality on-air, which also happens to also be an extension of the Y-brand. This approach lead to what is known as the Y-culture, and this culture embodied a “cool youth leader”, it didn’t matter where you came from or what your music taste was, if you had a certain ‘cool-factor’ about you on-air and was living your on-air persona even outside the studio,YFM gave you a chance on-air...which is why till this day, one can spot a YFM jock even ‘in the making’.
There are of course shortcomings to my proposed approach, for starters it can either work(and when it does,it works very well) or it can fail, and drastically so. It can create a drift between the producer and the jock, especially if more power is bestowed upon the jock since he’s the on-air personality, this can lead to an ineffective working relationship between the two. The creative freedom can also lead to rules being broken in the name of “creating good radio”, we have seen this even with the likes of Phat Joe and Chillie M, where their controversial nature landed them in hot-waters with the BCCSA a couple of times and ultimately getting them fired. It is needless to say that in order for this approach to work effectively, the programming manager relies heavily on the jocks to have an astute level of maturity,understanding of broadcasting, good work-ethic and most importantly discipline. Unfortunately that’s a rarity, but not impossible to find and execute if the will is there.
Don’t get me wrong, structure is important, and “as a professional, a good jock should be able to adapt and do any show they are assigned to”...granted! However, if you want to cultivate greatness out of a jock, give them creative freedom(with responsibility of course) and assign them a show that is an extension of their lifestyle...just watch!
Knox is available on firstname.lastname@example.org and writes in his personal capacity.