Dead Air…


I’ve been saying it for the longest time now.

Radio needs to work harder and smarter. Cut the amount of mindless shit being spewed out by know-nothing DJs, cut the amount of useless shit being advertised and add more relevant content – especially from the DJs (TIP: if you’re only going to speak about yourself or read another bloody “funny email”, shut up and play another song).

In January of last year, I blogged about the programming manager of a well-known local commercial radio station who told me “Digital radio is dead. It’s not a threat.“ And this at a time when the FCC was mooting the Whitespace frequency for digital-radio roll out.

Well, buddy, have I got news for you…

Aha Mobile brings you Aha Radio, a free mobile application that transfers a broad range of web-based information into a customisable radio experience.


In English that means you can listen to real-time traffic reports, Twitter and Facebook updates, plus 50 channels of content-podcasts with stuff like restaurant reviews, and news from NPR and Fox.

In addition, there will be “community-stations“, where you’ll be able to communicate with other usersif you want.

And that’s the big thing: “if you want“. You’ll only get the content you want. So you decide which Twitter streams, Facebook updates, news reports, etc you want to listen to.

What about music? Well, rollout is currently through the iPhone, so you’ll have the music you want to listen to, but there is also discussion about linking to mobile music providers. In addition, the revenue model is based around 10 second ad flashes (which I’m guessing will ultimately be customised) and premium content and services subscriptions (think GPS direction services).

It’s the world beyond radio…and it’s getting closer…

Friday 5: the revival…

I’m all for lateral out-of-the-box* creative thinking. But where’s the point in being so damned clever that no-one can understand you?

5FM. It’s supposed to be edgy, urban, boundary-pushing radio and that’s the image they want to portray to the consumer.

“We are very excited about our new campaign, which was almost entirely created with the talents of over 25 of our country’s top young animators. This world-class production effectively illustrates the effect 5FM has on the lifestyles of our national youth audience: we are here to amplify your world and provide the soundtrack to the revolution that is 21st century lifestyle beyond.” 5FM**


This whole campaign is a self-pleasuring session of the Nth degree. I can’t relate to the ads. Hell, I can’t even find a link between them and the station.

Exhibit A: “Walk the dog”. One (not 5) 50ft woman strolling through the city centre with a 30ft tarantula on a leash. Here you go:

Exhibit B: “DJ”. An octopus (that has 8 arms, not 5) spins discs and mixes audio.

Exhibit C: “Kiss” Two (still not 5) prepubescent emo-brats get over themselves long enough to swap spit and the city explodes.

Exhibit D: “Clubbing”. 4 (again not 5) rejects from a Tokyo Drift casting session arrive at a meat-warehouse nightclub (a la Blade) and then morph into wolves ready to snack on sheep.

Don’t get me wrong. Visually, the spots are eye-catching and definitely something new. And yes, the allegories in the last 2 are slightly more obvious than the first couple. But the problem remains that there’s no link between them and the brand. None.

Usually I wouldn’t blame 5FM, but after reading that quote above, it seems everyone just went into a board meeting, crunched down some crazy pills and then took turns fellating each other. It’s Emperor’s New Clothes Syndrome: where no-one in the creative meeting undestood what the hell was going on, but the key decision-maker (who didn’t want to look like a doos) signed off on it and everyone wanted to keep their paycheques so they just went along with it.

In stark contrast (and just to prove my point) was the latest offering from Metro FM (no, I don’t work for them). A simple, understated spot playing music from the station with visuals illustrating the bond that listeners over the course of generations have felt with Metro FM. No fancy CGI, no cooler-than-thou edginess…just a clear simple message of what the station stands for and what you can expect as a listener.

So why did 5FM run the campaign? I think it was just to give hormone-riddled middle-class teenage bastards yet another opportunity to spout off about how they’re so hard-done by.

[SCENE: Dad and son sitting in the lounge watching TV. One of 5FM’s ads flights on the screen. After it’s done, there’s a pause.]

DAD: What the hell was that?

SON: That’s exactly it! You don’t understand me Dad! You never have! It’s not about “what it is”, but “how it makes you feel”. But you don’t care about that. You don’t care about how I feel. You never care about my needs dad. I asked for Nintendo Wii and you got me a PS3. A PS3! I can’t play Dynamite Racing Bitches 4 on a PS3 dad! And you still haven’t replaced the plasma LCD in my room. I asked for a 120 inch plasma. Not a 118 inch plasma! So my friends don’t come around to visit anymore. I’m too ashamed to Facebook because my MacBook is last month’s model. I’m not earning any money dad! I can’t afford these shiny things. Between school and parties and my tik habit and getting drunk at the mall on the sly and having unprotected sex in the toilets, I don’t have the time to get a job! But you don’t understand at all! You just judge me because you don’t understand my music or my friends or the fact that I wear black all the time and cut myself for no real reason other than to get attention. I want to go to therapy like the other kids, dad. I want prozac and lithium and ritalin. I want…

[Dad leans over and gently but forcefully snaps his son’s neck. He whips out a set of cutlery and hums as he slices the kid into bite-size pieces]

DAD: [mouth is full] You just got owned, bitch.


Thanks to Roy Blumenthal for reminding about this post. I wrote it when the campaign first launched. Nice to see that the opinions are still shared.

*Hate that term. It’s up there with the incorrect use of “synergy” and “whereby”.