Yesterday, our blog took a look at National Geographic, a very old school magazine leaping into the future with great visual storytelling. I pulled 8 lessons from Nat Geo that apply directly to how radio can better use visuals to tells stories, while creating stronger audience connections.
And I was writing that post, I started thinking about some of the best radio pros doing just that – telling great stories with digital visuals and minimal text. And they are almost always entertaining, informative, and actually fun. You look for their posts and tweets because you know they’re consistently good.
One of my favorites is KSWD/The Sound’s Rita Wilde. She’s a multi-decade veteran of L.A. radio and has catalogued her rock n’ roll life over all those years with great photos. But Rita isn’t just about posting cool pics – her brief but emotion-inducing captions are what makes her such a great visual artist. You always know where she stands and what she’s feeling, whether it’s during moments of joyous celebrations or times of tragedy, like the example below:
Rita’s a natural at this, and she makes it look easy. Even though it’s not. Sadly, The Sound has been sold and will change formats in a few weeks. But you get the sense Rita will continue communicating with her large social audience. You can access her Facebook page here.
Another personality who brings you into his world is 98Rock/WIYY Baltimore’s Kirk McEwen. His photos aren’t slick or ultra-professional, but they give you a sense of time and place – mostly about what he’s up to. And after you spend time on his Facebook page, you get the feeling he’s out every night at a concert or sporting event, and that he just loves his job, rock n’ roll, sports…and his family. His photos and his accompanying comments are a window into his world – a place where it’s fun to hang out.
Then there’s WCSX night guy, Dave Dahmer. He casts himself as an everyman schlemiel, posting photos of his odd, quirky journey through life. It’s typically self-deprecating and ironic, complete with offbeat observations and humor about his real life encounters. If Cosmo Kramer was tweeting, it would look and feel something like this. You can access Dahmer’s Facebook page here.
Now let’s move into public radio, because one of NPR’s finest political reporters – Don Gonyea – doubles as a photo journalist. Don covers the big elections, along with the primaries and the day to day Washington beat. His photos are an admission ticket into his travels – and not just the political arena. When he’s on the road, his photos reflect his environs and the vibe of wherever he is:
Don functions as a digital tour guide, taking you through the side streets, the backroads, and they alleyways in the cities and towns he visits. His posts are always entertaining and very Americana. You can follow Don on Twitter here.
Finally, there’s that post at the very top of today’s blog from Nick Michaels. For those who may not know, Nick is best known as a voice actor extraordinaire. He doesn’t just have some of the most expressive and unique pipes in radio, but he’s an expert storyteller and writer who paints pictures with his words. But he also paints pictures of the photos he takes, like the one above. You can see his work all over his Facebook page, often promoting “The Deep End,” his syndicated progressive rock show that’s a tribute to the glory of the early FM days.
As Nat Geo’s Jonathan Hunt pointed out yesterday, it’s not just the photos that make you think, emote, or pause – it’s the text that is written alongside them. That’s part of the charm, the art , and the craft of posting compelling, memorable, whimsical, and impactful visual content.
While each of the personalities I’ve highlighted are very different from one another, they have one thing in common: they share their life journeys and connect emotionally with their fans. You can tell each enjoys their jobs, and it shows by what they post and their usually clipped, but clever commentary. You feel like you truly get to know them in a way that transcends the airwaves from their posts.
That’s visual storytelling at its best.
I’m sure I’ve missed many talented people on the radio in this post, so that’s where you come in. I’m happy to turn the JacoBLOG spotlight on radio pros who are excelling in the visual storytelling space. As the big brands and well-known media outlets have learned, this is a growth area where consumers enjoy hanging out and sharing content – on their phones, tablets, and laptops.
Many radio people never expected that photo journalism would ever be a skill set that might affect and enhance their careers. In a medium that has always put the emphasis on “theater of the mind,” these visual storytelling skills are difference-makers.
Perhaps no one ever asked a DJ in a job interview whether she’s a good photographer. But, in fact, this area is emerging as an important way for radio brands and personalities to stand out and connect. It’s a question that more PDs should be asking.
Point. Click. Post. Emote. Share.
Special thanks to Jay Kernis, former head of NPR programming, and now a wonderful producer for “CBS Sunday Morning.” That’s one of Jay’s great posts I used as the featured photo for this post. It appears below, along with a link to Jay’s truly amazing Facebook page. Jay always takes you backstage to his word of celebrities and travel.
Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.
In 2008, jacapps was launched - a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,000 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created - a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.
Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.