By Holland Cooke
“Now that consumers have tasted freedom with regards to choosing their content, there’s no going back.”
Shira Lazar, who emceed Wednesday’s Ted Talk-style M.E.T. Effect presentations. “Today our phones have become incredibly powerful communication tools and video/photo-capturing devices. It’s now easier than ever to be both a creator and owner of content.”
Thus the way smart radio stations publish-to – promote-on – engage-with – and solicit-content-from smartphone-toting listeners.
“Big ideas don’t always work out.” And some DO.
Examples of DON’T: MySpace, flip phones, and DVDs, all cited by Jeff Cuban, COO of his brother Mark’s Cuban Entertainment Properties.
Example of DO: Mark Cuban got the horselaugh when he bought the NBA Dallas Mavericks. “Then broadcast rights fees went up. Who knew the Los Angeles Clippers would sell for $2 billion?”
He walked us through the evolution of HD Net, first online, eventually a cable channel (now Axs). “When NOBODY had a HDTV,” his company bought a bunch of them and placed them in sports bars around Dallas.
Eventually Cuban’s company bought Magnolia Pictures and Landmark Theaters, the USA’s biggest art house chain. Not just for vertical integration. Eventually, they began “same-day-same-date release,” in theaters and online “for the same price as a movie ticket.” But at first, online access followed theater premieres by several days. “Then came Netflix binge-watching,” which prompted Cuban’s move to release simultaneously across all platforms, Netflix plus theaters.
What this means to radio, donning my consultant hat:
- Don’t “protect” your transmitter with a rule that something must air before you make it available on-demand. Which-is-the-dog and which-is-the-tail doesn’t matter any more.
- Why: Many consumers can find your work on phones and computers and iPads first. We write promos that assure listeners that “WXXX is working for you, even when you’re not near a radio.”
- I asked the publisher of a big newspaper in the Midwest, “What won’t you put online before the presses roll?” His (smart) answer: The lifestyle enterprise stuff (food pieces, wedding stuff, how-to-pick-the-perfect-puppy, etc.). He told me that “when there’s a plume of smoke on the horizon, I tell the Desk ‘Get it online ASAP. Spell-check it later.’”
Smartphone Video: “Do It Properly Or Not At All”
With digital now such a priority, radio people are scrambling to learn video. In a thick Norwegian accent, Jarle Leirpoll offered some tips:
- Avoid light backgrounds.
- For interviews: Have the camera on the darker side of a face. Reflectors help reduce contrast, and can make faces look better. Even white cardboard will work.
- If you’re shooting with a smartphone, keep it Airplane mode, so it doesn’t ring, and to conserve battery charge.
- If you’re shooting with a smartphone, consider a handheld stabilizer. He demonstrated the handheld Osmo Mobile which I found on Amazon for under $300. If you use a stabilizer, turn off any stabilization setting on your camera or phone.
- Try 3 shots from different angles with different framing.
- Include a “visual evidence” shot, one shot of the situation that explains what’s being seen. He showed us a clip of an aircraft pilot quietly praying pre-flight. Asking “What do you know about her?” he pointed out: what she does, that she’s about to do it, and that she’s faithful.
- Another way to enhance story-telling: “”Choose the [interview] location wisely. What does it tell you about the person?”
- Avoid long-arm-coming-into-the-frame (holding microphone). Get closer, and reach-up from below, not straight-arm farther-away.
- SOUND MATTERS, and the microphone hears more background noise and room noise than you do. So try “the finger-in-your-ear test:” To hear like a mic, listen with a finger in one ear.
He also offered some interview tips. Although this is a fundamental skill for us radio folk, his I learned a couple things from his producer’s perspective. I posted his list at HollandCooke.com
My most interesting stop in the sprawling Las Vegas Convention Center Exhibit Hall: huge booth for Blackmagicdesign, an Australian equipment maker catering to “the new generation of Internet broadcasters. Worth perusing at blackmagicdesign.com if you’re committing to video. The $495 Blackmagic Web Presenter might be a good first step.
One more day for NAB Show, so look for more here tomorrow, and follow my real-time convention Tweets @HollandCooke.
Holland Cooke is a media consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet; and he covers industry conferences for TALKERS. Meet HC at Talkers 2017: A New Era in New York City on June 2.