On a journey from community to commercial in the new age of radio | radioinfo

On a journey from community to commercial in the new age of radio

Monday 19 October, 2015

For those who want to make a full time living from radio, the path from community to commercial can be as a tough a journey as walking the Kokoda Track. Still, many have done just that.


It always involves drive and passion and, if you’re lucky, a good mentor or two along the way.

Veteran community announcer Darren McErlain, a school teacher by day, has mentored a number of young people over the years. He is currently helping 21 year old Yass FM, News Night presenter Blake Danilczak to achieve his dreams.

In this article he speaks with Blake about his practices in radio journalism in the community and commercial sectors - how advances in technology have changed the way audiences consume radio for information and entertainment. 

Measuring the quality of radio journalism can be done with a trifecta of standards: the technology used to produce and receive a show, the skills of the presenter and the gift of making local interests a global matter.

Blake Danilczak has already  amassed some valuable experience in news and current affairs, as a radio producer in Yass and Canberra. Presenting the flagship News Night from Yass-FM studios each Thursday, the community comes to life with a new way of looking at local issues and is shared with a global audience.

“Broadcasting online means I can expand my audience and attract listeners outside of the Yass Valley, cater for those interested in News and increase the accessibility of the show,” said Danilczak.

Newly appointed Federal Communications Minister , Senator Mitch Fifield told the National Radio Conference via video message on October 9 that while Australia's media landscape is experiencing significant changes in this time of digital disruption, radio remains an essential part of Australians' lives.

“It (Radio) keeps us well-informed and abreast of news, current affairs, and important weather and emergency information. Not to mention entertainment,” said Senator Fifield.

Speaking about the future technology in the radio industry, Senator Fifield said while traditional broadcasters are facing challenges from the increasing popularity of streaming services, there are also fantastic initiatives coming from industry in this area.

“Development of the I Heart Radio product is a great indication of how this brand is adapting to the streaming environment by partnering with local and international acts,” he said.

Working in community radio has been a great way for young journalists like Danilczak to proactively use their technological skills while waiting for that position in commercial news.

“News Night is putting theory to practice that prepares me for my goal of reading the Television news. Even though the show is off the cuff, I do have a rough script for some segments that scrolls on my iPad autocue,” he said.

The original Thursday Live on Yass-FM reached successful heights, projecting Danilczak into a commercial radio position in the nation’s capital with 2CC in Canberra, and working behind the scenes.

Danilczak said moving into commercial radio was a huge transition with extra pressure and expectations, which brought a great deal of job satisfaction.

“I loved the thrills of commercial radio as I learned new skills, and worked with industry professionals who have decades of experience – it certainly put my journalistic abilities to the test.”

“The main highlight in my time at 2CC is getting to work with Rod Henshaw, a radio legend; downright great guy and an excellent mentor,” he said.

In the juggling act of all things media, Danilczak made the big decision to step away from commercial radio to focus on university, and place more emphasis on his passion of producing and presenting the rebranded News Night on the local Yass station.

News Night is bigger than Thursday Live ever was with more news, interviews, discussions on important issues and in all honesty, more controversy!”

News Night has attracted big names on the show during the 5-7pm timeslot on Yass-FM, with interviews by leading professionals across a variety of fields.

Since introducing News Night, Yass FM’s leading news and current affair programme, Danilczak has interviewed Channel 9’s Erin Molan, Aviation Expert Geoff Thomas, Channel 7’s Jim Wilson, MP Peter Phelps, Entrepreneur Dick Smith and Broadcaster Kellie Sloane

“News Night has a focus on national issues that effect small communities such as Yass and provides a concise analysis of the week’s news. News Night was nominated for a community radio award for Excellence in Spoken Word, News & Current Affairs Programming (2015),” said Danilczak.

News Night also uses the resources of reporters from other community-based programmes across Australia, to bring a diversity of content for the listeners. Previous commentators have included Ivan Leung & Ally Tucek (Evening News Perth), Ryan Sharman (91.5FM Gympie), Dylan Websdane (RTRFM 92.1 Perth), Lauren Yeates (SWR-FM Blacktown) Caleb Bond (Triple J) and Jasper Lindell (2XX Canberra).

In May 2014, Community Broadcasting Association of Australia President Adrian Basso said the future of community radio and TV stations hanging in the balance of what is decided in Government budgets.

“If the Federal Government adopts the Commission of Audit’s recommendation to abolish funding for community broadcasting, stations right across the country could be forced off air,” he said.

Radio programmes like News Night have taken a local community to the world stage using new free Periscope technology to connect with a global audience across various time zones. This could be a handy tool if the local shows no longer have a medium.

“Periscope is yet another way to engage with listeners and tap into an online medium. This App. allows listeners to have a look behind-the-scenes at the show and directly interact with me and ask questions,” said Danilczak.

There is a strong element of professionalism to this humble News Night, with big plans for a show of high standards in the pipeline, should it be picked up by commercial radio.

If News Night was on a commercial station, I would love to have a team of reporters to contribute more news and stories from on the ground. I would aim to have more guests, being a voluntary show on community radio, I can only dedicate so much time to production,” said Danilczak.

New age radio is still a distant cousin of the wireless employing audio only for the radio consumer. While radio lacks vision in the literal sense, Blake Danilczak has a vision for radio ratings winner worth its weight in gold.

You can catch News Night on Thursdays 5-7pm on YassFM 100.3, YassFM website, tweets by @BlakeDanilczak and podcasts on mixcloud.com/blakedanilczak/

Darren McErlain is a reporter for WAMN News Perth, Hunter TV Newcastle, Only Numbers #1s (Target Radio Network) in Penrith and provides the voiceover promotions for News Night on Yass-FM & Keepin’ It Real on SWR-FM. 



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