Dick Orkin dies; BBC switches off more AM transmitters, smart speakers a hit

Welcome to 2018, which I saw in by being woken up by fireworks.

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United States

  • Radio creative, voiceover and star Dick Orkin died just before Christmas. His daughter Lisa announced the news, and Eric Rhoads wrote Life And Lessons With Chickenman, an affectionate look back at his relationship with Dick. Orkin was particularly famous for wanting to tell stories (mostly funny ones) about clients in order to help potential customers to remember them. Here’s a podcast with Dick and Lisa with some of their thinking.

  • Total global usage of Stitcher in 2017 was over 100,000,000 hours. In context: total US radio listening in 2017 was 194,220,000,000 hours - (249m listeners, listening on average 15h a week.). On Twitter, RAIN’s Brad Hill adds, via Twitter: “I believe Stitcher delivers 4% of podcast listening. If that’s correct, total podcast listening would be 2.5B hours. Still small fraction of US radio.”

  • Triton Digital’s ranker for online radio, October 2017. News/talk continues to rise. Top 40 music radio falls. There’s a lesson here for the future of radio.

  • ‘Cherry, Cherry’ on repeat on local radio station 107.1 - stunts like this do get talked about.

  • Bill McMahon posts about The Tyranny of the Target Audience. Having a target audience is good (though not a strategy by itself); it’s how you use it that’s important.

  • Amazon Alexa and Google Home top App Store charts on Christmas Day, implies smart speakers were popular holiday gifts. I’m still waiting to see some stats from home speakers (not just research but actual data).

  • Think we can’t change the name of a podcast? In the US, in 1922 a portable radio was called, confusingly, a “wireless ‘phone”. Fascinating stuff from the Smithsonian Magazine.

United Kingdom

  • Death of AM: 13 BBC Local Radio AM transmitters will go silent this January. As I say relatively regularly, if you’re primarily an AM broadcaster, you need to consider your survival plan.

  • John Myers pens a few radio memories. Notably, particularly, the high amount of paperwork around radio in the early 1990s.

  • Letter from America, a podcast from WNYC about a BBC Radio 4 programme from Alistair Cooke.


  • What will the (commercial) radio landscape look like in 2018? - NOVA’s excellent Paul Jackson says that he will be focusing on consistency - which is a trait that Australian radio has a strange blind spot for, with lots of changes happening in mid January. All this comes after six weeks of randomly-presented network programming. The station that retains consistency through the summer break next year will be the real winner, if you ask me: the listeners don’t get six weeks off, after all…

I’m grateful to Melbourne’s 89.9 Light FM, and to Wayne Scott, for your kind support of this newsletter.

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