Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Radio students on 'Radio'

What do radio students think of radio?

Quite a bit, actually.

Eight weeks into their first semester, more than 50 first year, first semester radio students had an assignment which required them to analyze radio: familiar stations they listen to often, and stations they have never tuned into before. Results of their findings will be revealed momentarily – please stand by.

It’s always interesting getting perspective on the current state of radio from young adults. These are folks drawn into studying this industry for various reasons: they love music, love sports, love writing and/or audio, have opinions and observations they want to share, or - in some cases – just love talking and maybe just love the sound of their own voice.  At this stage in their radio studies, they have just the right amount of foundational knowledge for a somewhat informed opinion, but not enough knowledge to sway their opinion from a true honest observation.

I had just finished marking this assignment, and summarizing takeaways for this blog piece, when I attended the November OAB Conference, aptly titled ‘ Visioning the Future’.

Daniel Anstandig, CEO of Futuri -which is a developer of social and mobile audience engagement technology – encouraged media companies to tap into millennial brains to get their views of the future of media. Jeff Vidler – President of Audience Insights, and one of the smartest radio people in Canada I might add – followed Daniel’s presentation by revealing results of his actual discussion with 6 millennial brains. This sample group -  young adults averaging mid-twenties – urged the radio industry to be more fun, and to focus on personalities. They like contesting, ease of use and convenience of radio. They don’t want to use their data to listen to radio (hello – unlock the FM chip anyone?). 

These are important takeaways from average, everyday people who are coming at these conclusions and observations from a very honest and unbiased point of view. Here at Humber college, the faculty – radio and all media programs specifically  - are lucky enough to have access to these kinds of opinions and observations on the state of whatever media - on a regular basis - each and every time we step into a classroom or mark an assignment.

Here's an example.

Circling back to the opening of this piece - and results of an assignment where the students - currently everyday people with a vested interest in radio - were asked to critically listen and analyze radio and offer the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Highlights from the ‘Radio Station Analysis’ assignment from fall 2016.

Sample Size: 50
35% female
65% male
Average age

First year, first semester radio students, Humber College School of Media Studies and Information Technology, Toronto, ON

Assignment Objective – (synopsis):
  • Listen critically to one hour of radio on a station you are familiar with, and another hour of radio on a station you have never listened to
  • Look at their web page – see if you can find information about the company, management etc
  • Record -on a hot clock, and analyze the following:

    • When did the station break during that hour, and what did those breaks contain?
    • Why were commercials placed here – observations?
    • What did the host/announcer talk about, and why did they talk about that item at that point?
    • Who is listening, what makes you think that?
    • Who is the direct competition to this station, and why?
    • If you were the PD – what would you change – if anything?

Findings : The Good, Bad and Ugly

The Good  – point form

  • The term 'part of' came up a bit. These young listeners liked to feel they were ‘part of’ something  - part of the joke - part of a 'special club' - all terms that came up
  • They LIKE news headlines. Many listened to stations they never listened to before and heard top hour headlines - questioning why all the stations didn't do this?
  • They like to be reminded of who is talking, what was played, the time and weather, background on songs and - how it always was before someone said no one wants this anymore! Many of these students were listening to some of these stations for the first time and were unfamiliar with the songs, the host etc. One student questioned – “does the station not want to attract and keep more listeners so their ratings will increase? Then tell me what and to whom I am listening!
  • They like hosts who interact with listeners
  • They like hosts in general! A few students tuned into an hour of radio that was clearly unmanned – on auto, and they couldn't understand why there was no host. One mentioned how it was an opportunity lost.
  • They like strategically placed spot sets – and sets that were shorter length.
  • They like good, informative and funny talk radio (some never listened to talk before)-  but they felt the hosts should identify the guests more often
  • They like classical music - and jazz - and have discovered these are relaxing stations that they will tune into moving forward. (note: opportunity here given our stressed out millennials!)
  • Many found stations for the first time that they didn't know exist. (note: another case to implement Sean Ross’ idea of radio pooling together to advertise radio (on billboards and other mediums)
The Bad and Ugly –  point form

  • Overuse of splitters. One student offered  - do they think the listener is stupid? We get we are listening to that station!
  • Lack of information. What are they listening to? Who are they listening to outside of the splitters?
  • No host. Many students pulled an all-nighter (as students do) to complete this assignment. Many questioned why they didn't hear a host -or any interaction with audience. One student pondered - don't they want people to tune in overnight? What about all the shift workers?
  • Commercial spots that were too long; Many students commented on this –and suggested that a long stop set sounded like one big commercial – the first client gets forgotten after commercial number 7 airs. 
  • Many commercials – some felt - also had too much information – they were confused. What exactly is the client selling?
  • Certain hosts were talking to audience as a whole, rather than individually - there was no intimacy
  • Information gathering; students questioned why it was so hard to find information about demographics and psycho-graphics on the radio webpage? Shouldn’t this be clearer? (Many noted CHFI did a good job with this)
  • Students also noted many stations did not clearly identify station management and how to contact them outside of a general 'contact us' form.

Interesting observations and takeaways from the future stakeholders in radio; our colleagues and maybe even our bosses? These young people have great ideas. They have logical observations and questions - which in some cases - don’t have a logical answer. They want to be heard and share their ‘millennial brains’ with you – the agents of change. Listen closely, and you could learn a thing or two like we profs do every time we step into the classroom.

To arrange for your own focus group, poll or survey with these students – feel free to contact me. They would love for you to hear their opinions.


Today’s class discussion was on social media platforms and what the class – sample size 18 - likes best and why. Will this help form the social media platforms you use with your stations?

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Understanding the 'Emerging Adult'

Recently I have had more than a few discussions with friends and colleagues about teenagers and their focus, or lack thereof in some cases, when it comes to the future and what they want to do with their lives.

These conversations have been  - for the most part - with those who have children leaving high school and trying to figure out next steps. Will they head to University? College? Take a year off and travel or work? All of these options seem like the natural next progression based on what we - the parents, guardians or advisors - experienced 20 or more years ago.

But what many of my friends and colleagues are not prepared for, and what I'm seeing quite a bit of in my own post-secondary profession, is the young adults 'giving it a go' - only to drop out of post-secondary for a while, then  'give it a go' a few more times - living in the basement, before realizing what it is they truly want to do with the rest of their lives.

This is taking many people by surprise and casting huge amounts of stress on both the parent and the young adult. From the parent/guardian perspective - I hear What's wrong with them?" "Where did I go wrong". From the young adult perspective, I hear 'I'm not ready for this"  "I need more time to figure things out'.

This discussion throws me back to a research paper I wrote for my Masters Degree. It centered on understanding today's young adults, why they are hesitant or ill equipped to make plans for the future, and addresses the challenges and fears they face in today's world which - as we know - is drastically different than what their parents faced. Right or wrong - coddling or not - the excerpt below may offer some insight into what the 'emerging adult' is up against, and the need to help these young people figure things out long before they hit the age where they are forced to do so.

...While appearing to appreciate the importance of goal planning, the students found the assignment challenging in part. This reinforced to me that a goal planning exercise should continue to be part of my curriculum but that it required changes.

Prior to pursuing an action research cycle, I also reviewed literature on young adults to appreciate other factors that may impact the students’ performance on the goal planning exercise. I found two authors who provided me with particular insight on the 18 to 25 demographic.

One author is Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, a professor from the Clark University department of psychology. Arnett notes that the lack of direction among post high-school students may be attributed to their delayed entry into traditional roles of adulthood as defined by prior generations (J Jenson Arnett, 2010). He observes the period beyond high school has dramatically changed over the past thirty years, and to expect today’s young adults, aged 18 to 25, to assume roles that young adults aged 18 to 25 assumed in 1972 would be unreasonable. These roles include such things as marriage, parenthood and stable work.  Arnett believes today’s post secondary students wait until at least their late twenties to make these transitions, and has attributed this transition time to a new life stage he identifies as ‘emerging adulthood’. Arnett believes members of this new life stage club are frequently misunderstood and misinterpreted. Contrary to criticisms voiced by some members of the older generations, Arnett defends the emerging adult group. He believes that their reluctance to jump into adult roles identified by today’s older adults should not be viewed as selfish, slacking or grandiosity, but rather reflects a need for time to build skills to be a grown up.

In the context of goal planning, Arnett’s observations of this age group appear to me to equally describe young adults who are in a kind of limbo when it comes to life direction, unable to adequately plan for the future, because they are not ready for it.  In my view, Arnett’s observations support a need for goal planning as a tool to assist this age group to better focus and prepare for their tomorrow.  

The importance of goal planning is also supported by the observations of Doctor Oliver Robinson on the next supposed life stage, referred to as the ‘quarter life crisis’. Doctor Robinson presented his findings on the ‘quarter life crisis” to the British Psychological Society Annual Conference in Glasgow in May of 2011. Dr. Robinson claimed this project to be the first to look at the quarter life crisis from a "solid, empirical angle based on data rather than speculation” (Robinson, 2011). Robinson found that, out of 1100 young people (aged 25 to 35) surveyed, 86% admitted feeling pressure to succeed in their relationships, finances and jobs before reaching the age of 30.

If one accepts both Jensen Arnett’s observations that emerging adults delay assuming traditional roles of adulthood, and Dr. Robinson’s findings on the quarter life crisis, then when emerging adults are ready to assume these traditional roles, they enter a very stressful, anxiety ridden, stage, in which they feel the need to accomplish goals they had been putting off until age 30! My conclusion? Goal planning by young adults is more crucial than ever! If we do nothing, are we not enabling an entire generation of young adults to lack the drive and focus to prepare for their future, only to then find their backs up against a wall because the realities of adulthood are suddenly sprung on them?

Another aspect I examined prior to undertaking the action research cycles was the economic reality facing young adults. This was explored in a further attempt to understand the challenge of goal planning. The Canadian Council of Learning estimates that 57 percent of students leave post-secondary institutions with student loan debt averaging $13,600 (Canadian Council of Learning, 2010; Stats Canada 2010). Students are required to start paying this debt back within six months of graduating. If a student carrying this debt secures an entry level position in radio broadcasting in Ontario within that six month time frame, he or she can expect to be making an entry level salary of $24,407 before taxes (Loyalist College, 2009). The median after-tax income for an unattached Ontarian is $25,600 (HRSDC, 2007). Assuming these figures are still accurate today, this means that a radio graduate who secures full time employment is a low income earner, and may be facing financial struggles to not only support themselves, but also to pay off their student loan. The future, to this graduate, may be bleak and scary.  However, if that same graduate had a goal plan which included a more prosperous future, would they not be better armed to deal with that challenge?

And then there’s the pedagogical approach. Because I assumed that the poor results on the goal planning assignment were attributable at least in part to the structure and delivery of the assignment itself, I also looked at various pedagogical approaches. Recent findings from a symposium on teaching and learning in  Ontario suggests a non-traditional, learning centred, or learner/student centred approach results in greater retention and understanding of learning (Christensen Hughes, 2011). These findings take into consideration such things as collaborative learning, individual student differences and self-directed learning capabilities, and led me to consider different pedagogical approaches when delivering my goal planning assignment. Would the students achieve better results in having a round table discussion about what goals are possible? This would allow me to step back into a more observer role and allow them to collectively idea build.

The final factor I considered prior to undertaking the action research cycle was something brought to my attention at an internal workshop I attended at Humber College. The workshop, called Promoting Synergy between Motivation and Active Learning (D. Gardner, 2012), drew attention to the college’s multi-cultural student backgrounds. Toronto is one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world (City of Toronto demographic facts, 2007).  This workshop emphasized the importance and need of educators to take into consideration the cultural background of students, which may offer additional challenges when it comes to planning for their future.  

Taken from 'The Goal from here? Simplifying goal planning", by Sheila Walsh, Bournemouth University - June 2012

Thursday, April 7, 2016

"It's all about perception" ~ Jim McCourtie


When you study the picture above, what do you see? 

Some see a young woman - and some see an elderly woman. Both - as it turns out - are right. But if you were a brand manager - how do you want the audience to see it?

Program Director Jim McCourtie (Y108 and Fresh FM, Hamilton) used that image - and the meaning behind it - to demonstrate to the Radio Humber students that the audience's perception on how they see YOU is what counts. What do the students want their media to convey? What is their personal brand? What is going to attract the right kind of attention? 

Now 3 weeks away from the leaving the comforts of college for the real world - the class of 2016 were reminded how important it is to stand out - go above and beyond with creativity and innovation to get noticed - and to manage that perception - that brand - that will take them places in their career. 

Jim reminded the class that their brand will be hired to compliment a station's larger brand - which led to the greater discussion of hiring practices and what someone like Jim would be looking for.

For announcers, newscasters and producers - Jim calls it a 'narrow look' before considering the bigger picture. He starts with the 'tape'; if he likes the audio piece - it fits with what he's looking for - then he opens up the resume and files it for consideration. A custom demo goes a long way, so does having a clean social media profile, and a stellar reputation. Jim will seek out what he calls 'back door references' - to get an opinion on someone he is considering hiring. These would be the references you don't put down on your resume. If those elements pass the test, then it would be time for the 'hiring viewpoint' - bringing the person in for a face to face chat.

Much like the image at the beginning of this story - Jim wants his station's audiences to either see the young woman, or the elderly one - and programming what he calls 'funusual' pieces (fun + unusual) work for both. A good programmer understands his audiences needs - and Jim says his announcers are never to make the listeners worry - it's not the job of these particular formats - it's not the perception to be conveyed. If the students can remember what they are trying to accomplish with their own brand - the perception they want to convey - then success is not far away.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Find your voice: Scott Metcalfe

'Find your voice' is what 680 News - News Director Scott Metcalfe opened his lecture with. 

Scott played audio examples of artists such as Bob Marley, Paul McCartney and Janis Joplin before - and after - 'finding their voice' . The point being to demonstrate to the Radio Humber Class of 2016 that who they are now ~ their talents and capabilities ~ will continue to evolve and get better ~  but only if they continue to practice and find their voice. Scott reiterated the point with a piece of audio of celebrated sportscaster Dan Shulman, who went from a green weekend sports anchor who Scott hired in the 1990's (audio piece 1),  to award winning ESPN play-by-play announcer (audio piece 2). Dan found his voice.

Scott has a great deal of perspective on things like this after having been in the business for more than 40 years - many of those years as a manager. He maintains a calm, mild-mannered disposition despite running the busiest and arguably the most hectic newsroom in Canada - Toronto's 680 News. Scott's leadership style has him clearly thinking outside the box in many cases - including with young up and coming broadcasters. Scott used an example of looking at someone who may be a Britney Spears expert as  'curious' - not 'limited' - and instead of scoffing at them,  he would attempt to  direct and channel that natural curiosity into other areas like politics or community issues.

On a personal note, I had the pleasure of freelancing for Scott at the Fan 590 more than 20 years ago and can attest that he was one of the nicest, most pleasant, approachable bosses I have ever worked for. Scott brought up his own experiences with bosses - good and bad - and offered to the class (who are currently searching for their first jobs) that they will most likely have experiences with both good and bad bosses. His advice? Focus on the job - not the boss; 'you may want to quit the boss, just don't quit the job'. 

Looks like that - might in fact - be the secret to such longevity in the radio.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Yes Mom, your child can have a great career in Radio!

Preparing to champion the Radio Humber program to potential students this weekend during our Open House, I like review the most recent statistics on radio so I can reassure nervous parents that "yes - your child can get employment in radio" and "no, radio is not dead; it's alive and well and flourishing in many different forms".

These statistics and data come from various sources - but none so succinct as conferences like the one presented by the Ontario Association of Broadcasters. Back in November, the OAB hosted an array of experts and consultants who shared much positive evidence and information about the state of radio today.

Read on...

Conference  - Toronto, Sheila Walsh, November 2015

Some of the provinces biggest and brightest managers, programmers and broadcasters were in attendance yesterday at the annual Ontario Association of Broadcasters (OAB) Connection – Conference and Gala Awards that took place in Toronto.

Sessions included exploring Radio’s Roadmap to the Future, Diving Deep into the Talent Pool, The Importance of Digital and Social media to Radio, and The Future of Media – presented by noted radio futurologist James Cridland.

Some of the dozens of featured radio experts taking part in the panels included former Radio Humber Advisory Committee member Jeff Vidler (analysis and researcher),  visionary Jeff Smulyan (said to have been the man who gave David Letterman his first radio job (NM)  – now recognized for his efforts to free the FREE FM chip in  smartphones), long time multi-award winning broadcaster John Derringer, respected radio GM and current Radio Humber Advisory member Lorie Russell, savvy New Media expert Chris ‘Dunner’ Duncombe, and Radio Humber’s own multi-award winning Writing for Radio professor Larry MacInnis.

Many topics and angles were covered, discussed and debated over the 9 hour day – here’s a summary of some of the items:
  • ·        More people listen to radio in a day than check their Facebook page in a month

  • ·        Despite massive competition, radio’s reach and numbers are very similar to 10 years ago (J Vidler)

  • ·        Traditional AM/FM radio still dominates audio landscape:

o   81% listen to radio (music/talk etc.) at least once a week
o   41% listen to music on YouTube
o   17% listen to  Satellite Radio
o   14% listen to pod-casting
o   13% listen to archived audio (streaming)
o   4% listen via app
o   (survey October 2015 – 1500 random Canadians – J Vidler)

·        There’s no end of people wanting to blow up radio – but in reality – radio is in very good shape with 88% of Canadians tuning into radio weekly, 93% of Americans, 89% of those in the UK, and 94% in India” – James Cridland

o    (interestingly – majority of radio listeners in India (over 90%)  listen to the radio on their mobile – utilizing the free FM chip that is STILL NOT UNLOCKED HERE IN CANADA! Why? Because the Canadian carriers will lose money if their customers can listen to something for free instead of using their data to listen! The entire room agreed there needs to be pressure put on carriers to unlock the chip. Currently only MOTO and HTC phones have unlocked the FM chip (allowing for a modern day Walkman)
  • ·        In the UK, Norway and Australia – traditional radio listening is still number one followed by DAB

  • ·        DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting)  is launching in 2017 in Norway – meaning the analogue FM radio that allows for only 5 FM stations will be shut off and exclusive DAB technology brought in - allowing for 22 radio stations (17 more!). Current FM radios can be upgraded or recycled.

  • ·        Some of the trends happening around the world with radio include ‘pop up digital stations’ – allowing for a terrestrial radio station to announce that – for example – “for the next 4 days leading up to the Oscars - tune into (xxxx dot xxxx) to listen to features, interviews and soundtrack from this years nominated films”.  This (dot) station would be an extension of that current station, but focus exclusively on specialty content. Very cool!

o   (this is a very interesting idea, but it was noted here in Canada with our CRTC regulations – it may not fly as easily as it does in the UK)

·        Some of the cool trends happening for mobile devices include…
o   NPR 1 app (US)
o   Your Own BBC (UK)
o   OMNY (Australia)
o   Capital Xtra (UK)

·        Conclusions/actions points
o   Radio continues to be the most emotional medium (Larry MacInnis)
o   Radio needs to better promote itself (campaign launching January 2016)
o   Radio needs to rediscover it’s coolness
o   Pressure needs to be put on carriers to unlock the FREE FM chip in everyone’s smart device; CRTC unsure who should be guiding carriers with this – is it them? Industry Canada? Further exploration needs to be discussed.
o   CRTC want to focus on improving the radio experience for Canadians before discussion on opening up more ownership
o   Potentially scary things?
§  The desire and push from companies to be allowed to own more than the regulated 2 FM stations per market. We have seen the results of these kinds of amalgamations – many job losses, and those who have managed to keep their jobs being given the work of 2 more people

§  The trend to get rid of ‘heritage’ stations for brand consolidation. Radio ownership becomes a ‘national’ product with local content. 


Parents/guardians - rest assured - radio is a good choice for an exciting career. The medium isn't going anywhere soon. If anything - some exciting innovative ideas are in the works offering further expansion of the medium.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Never say Never: Lessons from Becky Coles - Newstalk 1010

Newstalk 1010 producer Becky Coles paid a visit to her alma mater today, and spoke to the 2016 graduating class of Radio Humber.

Becky opened up her talk by asking the class if there was a certain radio format they wouldn’t ever work in. A few of the students responded, which led to the greater discussion of encouraging them to ‘never say never’. 

‘Never saying never’ is a sentiment echoed by most seasoned radio professionals – who – like Becky – rise to the occasion and work where they can get a job in radio – regardless of job description and content format. Becky reflected on how she didn’t expect to be a traffic reporter, work in promotions or do morning radio. The reality is – she worked in traffic, she worked in promotions and continues to work in morning radio. In her words – ‘ I like to live, support myself, and … eat.’

In the 14 years of working in radio – another reality Becky faced was being restructured out of employment twice. The first time she had a hard time with the experience, and was hard on herself - wondering what more she could have done to be kept on with the company. The next time it happened – she realized that being laid off or restructured  is a reality of this business, and no matter how hard you work –when your number is up, it’s up.

Good advice for the graduating class who may very likely face this ‘reality of the business’ one day themselves. The important part, says Becky - is to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, learn from the experience and try again. And never say never.

Sheila Walsh, Mar 30 2016

Thursday, March 10, 2016

I was there: Jerry Agar

“I was there.”

The three most powerful words a talk show host can say, according to Newstalk 1010 host Jerry Agar – who visited the Radio Humber class of 2016.

“Being there – in the heart of story – even for just 10 minutes – offers first hand perspective and credibility."

That was just one piece of advice Agar offered this group – most of whom will be pursuing on-air work when they finish their studies in 7 weeks.

The self-described hard-core conservative also suggested that everyone in the class “find their true self and figure out who you are and what you believe it. Just be YOU.” Agar shared that it wasn’t until the year 2000 when he discovered his ‘true self’ and made the transition from  music DJ to very successful, no holds barred talk radio host – a role that has taken him to many cities in the US – including Chicago and New York.

But that success didn’t come right away, and Agar reinforced to the class how important small town experience is to big time achievement. “Go small – get experience, fail – and then move on. It’s how you build credibility. Nobody goes to Swan River, Manitoba for their ‘second’ job”.

Agar also touched on acclimatizing to the community you serve – and how important honesty and transparency is. He used himself as an example: while new to the Toronto landscape , Agar – on the air - mispronounced Toronto’s Queens Quay (pronounced key not quay).  When corrected – he acknowledged his wrongdoing, and in true Jerry Agar fashion then asked the audience– ‘why the hell is it spelled that way then?” Something most Torontonians probably question as well.

Jerry Agar was viewed by the class as refreshing and passionate – honest and insightful. On his combative talk show technique, he said  ‘ I’m not trying to win, I’m trying to have an interesting show’. It was very evident that in person – as on-air - Agar is truly an interesting person -  to listen to -  and learn from.

Sheila Walsh, Mar 10, 16 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Chris Pottage - Producer Perspective

‘A good producer is always happy to help” 

Wise words from veteran Toronto radio producer – Chris Pottage – who visited the Radio Humber Speaker Series today (#RBDSpeakerSeries).  Pottage – who heads the Roger’s Radio Creative Department in Toronto – offered many wise words to this group of students – most of whom are radio producers and writers in training.

He advised the group to ‘do things that terrify you’, and he reflected on a time when he was thrown into a situation he wasn’t trained - or prepared - for: producing and mixing a live artist feature on the former Toronto country station CISS Country. The baptism by fire intial session was disastrous, and Chris pleaded with his then boss to never have to do it again. Her response – something that is still heard today – was ‘no money – you’re the man’. 6 months later – producing that live music feature was the highlight of Chris’ job.

Another key point Chris hit on was to be receptive of constructive criticism. ‘The person who pats you on the back and says good job – nothing else – is not helping you improve your craft’. He offered that someone who takes the time to properly critique you shows they care, and that they want you to get better.

Chris has survived much radio turnover in his career – and attributes it to something he advised the students to focus on:  a great work ethic, 'a great attitude, a yearning to improve your skill, and staying humble’.

Asked by a student what superpower he would like to possess – Chris answered ‘super attitude man’; I think it was evident to the audience that he already has that superpower.

Sheila Walsh, Mar 9, 2016

Friday, March 4, 2016

'Going Home' - reflections on post, post-secondary

Going ‘home’ today” was how Global TV reporter Mark Carcasole described his return to halls of Humber College.

How nice is it that our Radio Humber graduates reflect on their time in college with such warmth? It's an undeniable and indescribable connection that many alumni – myself included – feel each time they walk through the doors of their alma mater. And the Radio Humber program is very lucky that so many alumni offer to come back, share their experiences, offer advice - and make a re-connection with – perhaps – a simpler time?

Mark – from the class of 2006 - was the veteran of the nine Radio Humber graduates who returned to Humber College today to speak to the Radio Diploma Class of 2016 – who are a mere 8 weeks away from finishing up that ‘simpler time’ (although they don’t realize that yet).

Joining Mark on our ‘Grad Panel talk’ was Shemroy Parkinson from Kiss 92.5, Leah Abrahams from Newcap Radio Toronto, Phil Hong from Humble and Fred, George Tsilfidis from Newstalk 1010, Amanda Santos from Country 105 and her brother Quin Santos (our first brother sister graduating class!), Brent Gunning from Sportsnet 590 The Fan, and Nicole Rodgers – most recently of Indie 88.1

The session opened with this question: ‘What was the biggest learning curve 6 months post-Humber?’’
Answers varied – but essentially the common theme with the group was:
1.      You need to be a good multitasker
2.      You need to have an excellent work ethic
3.      You need to be passionate about what it is you are doing
4.      And perhaps most importantly – you need to be patient,     because the opportunity you’re waiting for is worth waiting for.

The current students had some very insightful and intelligent questions for the panel: “what’s the fine line between being confident and arrogant”  “how do I get noticed” “how can I make opportunities for myself”...

As someone who has had the pleasure of having each of these men and women in at least one of my classes over the years, it is very fulfilling to see that these young talents – who were diamonds in the rough not so long ago – are shining brightly and living their dreams. AND – that they like to come ‘home’.

SW, Mar 2016

Friday, February 26, 2016

Chuck McCoy: Radio is alive and well!

Canadian broadcasting giant and Canadian Music Hall of Fame member Chuck McCoy visited the 2nd year Radio Humber Diploma (soon-to-be) graduates today - offering advice and insight on the past, present and future of radio in Canada.

McCoy – whose CV includes more than 10 years as National Program Director for Rogers Broadcasting – shared observations and wisdom that only a 50 year industry veteran could.

First and foremost - contrary to ill-informed reports, Chuck confirms that radio is nowhere near dead. Again. (The first reported rumour of its imminent death, by the way, was with the invention of vinyl, followed by the invention of TV, followed by the launch of music-based TV, followed by the digitization of music, followed by the launch of satellite radio, followed by music sharing, followed by streaming, followed by the digital space in general, followed by --- well, you get it).

The latest so called ‘threat’ to radio is actually – according to Chuck - making radio 'better and stronger'. The digital space allows radio to go where it hasn’t gone before – using visuals to support the audio element, social media to promote and interact with listeners on another level, and sales opportunities which account for – in some cases – at least 20% of additional income generation.

As for advice for these students - a mere 2 months away from the job force? Here are some of the highlights…

·        Close to 90 percent of Canada’s population tunes into radio each and every week
·        Millennials don’t use radio? Guess again – 88 percent use radio weekly, compared to the use of smartphones - which came in at 80 percent; and almost 60% of the millennials  surveyed say they still discover their new music on radio first.
·        There were more listeners to the podcast ‘Serial’ than viewers of Mad Men. Which brings us to his next point…
·        Make no mistake; ‘podcasts’ ARE a form of radio.
·        There is progress being made ‘freeing the FM chip’ which allows smart phone users to listen to radio on their phones – for free - WITHOUT using their data
·        If Spotify was a radio station in Toronto – it would rank 5th in the market.
·        Yes people get information from many sources these days - but radio's strength is it has the opportunity to go deeper - and offer more meaning to those headlines

Chuck left the class with this reminder: nothing is below someone starting out in the radio industry; be the best at that job – get noticed – and work your way into what you REALLY want to do. He also reiterated something that we teachers like to enforce…

“Big opportunities start in small markets”

Learn more about Chuck and his latest venture – “Chuck McCoy International Media Services” by visiting

Twitter: @chuckmccoyradi

Sheila Walsh
Feb, 2016