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“A Face for Radio” No Longer Applies

July 14, 2017

The old adage “a face for radio” doesn’t seem to stand the test of time in a competitive industry that now demands more from its on-air talent. What was once a blind conversation with your daily host is now a multidimensional relationship where you can interact with your fave personalities in a variety of ways.

Instead of the basic ‘listen or call-in approach’ listeners now have the opportunity to tweet, follow, like, comment, watch, or even meet the individuals that they spend so much time hearing on the radio. Not only is it encouraged, but personalities are expected to keep listeners in the loop of their lives by sharing photos and attending events so that fans can put a face to the voice.

As DJ Brandi Garcia of the Los Angeles hip-hop station KDAY explains, “it’s all about the music, the attitude, the style, going to different events…it’s a whole feel to it. I go to a lot of the shows and different events our listeners go to. You have to be part of the community, not just show up to do your shift and go home.”1

This is a very true statement, as radio ratings stem from a loyal listener base, and what better way to achieve that then engaging with people anytime, creating a deeper bond and not just an echoing voice during the work commute. In order to keep interest and their jobs secure, hosts are willing to put forth the extra effort and open their lives to connect. As a loyal listener of The Bobby Bones Show myself, I admit that I could recognize him and his co-hosts in a photo and that I do follow him on social media. I’m sure you could admit something similar about your favorite jock, or if not, the option is definitely there.

Why? Parasocial interaction, or “the illusion of intimacy between media personalities and audience members… creates a bond between the listener and the host that results in appointment tuning and more time spent listening (TSL) to the radio station when their favorite announcer is on the air.”2

In fact, according to a study by the University of Southern California, 70 percent of the participants follow their favorite radio hosts/stations on social media.3 Break that down, “54.5% follow the host on Facebook; 24.3% on Twitter and 11.7% on YouTube.” The accessibility and openness of the hosts make 55% of listeners in the study feel like they know the host better, and thus more likely to tune in more frequently.3

In a world gone digital and social, the melting pot of media has truly turned radio hosts from simply interviewing celebrities to being celebrities themselves.

-Caroline Gergely, Research Assistant

1https://www.careersinmusic.com/radio-dj/, Become a Radio DJ
2http://kowchmedia.com/on-the-kowch-looks-at-hostlistener-bonding/, Why listeners bond with radio hosts
3http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/communities/atlantic-city_pleasantville_brigantine/pinky-s-corner-study-finds-radio-listeners-form-bond-with/article_fb185be6-c637-11e1-b0f2-001a4bcf887a.html, Pinky’s Corner: Study finds radio listeners form bond with on-air host