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Video Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive

That’s good, since it’s becoming an essential part of radio

It’s been 37 years since MTV signed on by playing The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star,” and radio is still very much alive. But songwriter Trevor Horn may have been correct about his larger point at the time, as told to BBC News: “Video technology was on the verge of changing everything.”

Today, one-third of time online is spent watching video, and tech giant Cisco has projected that to rise to 80 percent by 2019. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg expects that 90 percent of his platform’s content will be video-based by that time.

Gina Grad and Andy Chanley on a wide shot (left) and then just Andy (right) on Facebook Live from the 100.3 The Sound studio in Los Angeles, using a single stationary Mevo camera.

Anyone who posts regularly to Facebook has noticed that the platform’s distribution formula places a high priority on posts that contain video, especially live video. Facebook Product Developer for Video Daniel Danker told last spring’s F8 Developers Conference, “We believe the shift to video is as big as — if not bigger than — the shift from desktop to mobile.”

Yet while most radio personalities and their stations have moved quickly to establish a presence on social media, fewer are producing and posting video.

Talent Coach Randy Lane says that’s largely due to a lack of time and resources — and because they correctly place a higher priority on their on-air product. A lack of skills can be a problem, too. “Most personalities don’t have the technical expertise such as shooting styles, framing and lighting,” he says.

Steve Barnes, left, with Leslie Fram and Jimmy Baron on a 99X promotional poster in the late ’90s.


Video doesn’t have to be expensive to be effective, according to Barnes Creative Studios President Steve Barnes.

“You can do a lot with just an iPhone,” says Barnes. He makes his living producing video these days, but — from 1994 to 2003 — Steve was one-third of the popular “Morning X with Barnes, Leslie & Jimmy” on Atlanta’s 99X.

For radio people who can afford just a small investment in video gear, Barnes would put a small tripod and a stabilizer at the top of the shopping list.

Then, for under $500, Barnes suggests buying a Mevo camera, which plugs easily into your iPhone.

Mike Sherry, morning producer on LA’s 100.3 The Sound (my station), uses one to shoot live in-studio video for Facebook.

“We begin with a wide angle shot that includes everyone in the studio. Then with Mevo, we can easily narrow to close-ups of each talent as they speak, all using just one camera,” explains Sherry.

Consultant and Talent Coach Randy Lane

Although Lane advises talent to amplify their delivery on radio, to “be you plus 10 percent,” that little extra can look hyped on video. “Maintain open body language including eye contact with the camera, talk with your hands and arms — palms up — and plant your feet when talking to the camera.”

He cites “The KVJ Show” on WRMF in West Palm Beach and “Preston and Steve” from WMMR in Philadelphia as morning shows that have become comfortable on camera. They record their entire shows on video, then edit and post the best content in bite-size segments. The resulting video content is sponsorable, which encourages management to budget more on video. How did Sherry convince his management to buy a Mevo camera? He offered up the idea of sponsored Facebook Live segments at a brainstorm meeting for the sales department.

Barnes is enthusiastic about the power of video to build brands, both for advertisers and for personalities. “If I were back on morning radio today, I’d want to ‘crush it’ with Instagram video. It’s so simple to use; you can ‘go live’ at any time to share as much of your life on camera as you want.”

And as Warren Beatty famously said about Madonna in her 1991 “Truth or Dare” documentary, “She doesn’t want to live off-camera … What point is there of existing off-camera?”

Interested in marrying radio with video? Check out the Visual Radio Symposium — produced by Radio World and Radio magazine.

As of late October, Dave Beasing was programming the final days of LA’s “100.3 The Sound.” After a nine-year run, the classic rock station has been earmarked for divestiture by Entercom prior to its merger with CBS Radio.