Radio Reflection – Part 5

For the third consecutive week I’d like to have a look at personality, this time focusing in specifically on my own personality.

By doing this, I will attempt to gauge whether I might be able to bend my skills to certain audiences at a certain, commercial stations.

Here we go:

Fox FM – Key Age Bracket 10-17 + 18-24
Super energy. I often wonder how a guy like MC (Michael Christian) does it. Every morning, mid morning that is, pumping out tunes and keeping the energy up. I could do it, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve got a serious respect for these guys and girls.

Nova 100 – Key Age Bracket 18-24
Similar to Fox, yet I think presenters get away with a bit more relaxed presentation style here. Focus on comedy, and a welcoming presentation team.

Mix 101.1 – Key Age Bracket 10-17
Considering the age bracket, I’m not so sure the current presenters appeal to them. That being said, this also suggests that Mix is family friendly radio, which it is. So plenty of families will be tuning in.

Gold FM – Key Age Bracket 55-64
Older age bracket due to choice of music. Presenters are hence older to reflect the audience base. That being said, why not inject some youth in there? I think I’d fit in.

Triple M – Key Age Bracket 25-39
Key age bracket is 25-39 year olds, and, you guessed it, males. Plenty of sports talk and rock, but still a commercially successful station. Would be an easy mix to get into.

Triple J – Key Age Bracket 18-24
Pushing for more independent music and hence the presenters represent that. A few musicians present, ie. Lindsay McDougal and Nina Las Vegas. Station trades on its credibility, and keeps this 18-24 bracket fairly comfortably by focussing on new music. Ideal.

All stats compiled from Nielsen 2012 Melbourne Survey #4 March 25 – June 9

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Tame the Beast

It’s funny how we use ‘things’ to define who we are. We hardly ever talk of ourselves in terms of character traits or mannerisms, but rather where we work, whom we are related to, and what we enjoy.

This couldn’t be truer of fandom. Fans are defined by their like, or indeed love, of a certain thing. As the ultimate active audience, their collective activism in both daily life and the surrounding Transmedia world is at once fetishistic as it is creative and impressive.

How this fandom is largely received is divisive. Matt Hills suggests ‘pop culture’s take on fandom has typically been one of distaste and critique, with fan’s emotional attachments to media texts and celebrities being viewed as “irrational”‘ M.Hills (2007).

Irrational it may be, I would also suggest we’ve all got a little bit of the ‘fan’ in all of us. Importantly though, having this slice of fandom is useless when it only exists in your bedroom – unless you’ve got a community, especially online, in which to foster it. Then, you are face with the power fan communities are able to command. It has led to Chuck being reinstated for another season after a Zachary Levi led march to Subway, and 20 tonnes of nuts being sent to CBS to save post apocalyptic show Jericho.

On the flip side, it has also led to horrific circumstances such as the death of Rebecca Schaeffer, best known for her role on sitcom My Sister Sam, at the hands of a stalker.

It makes you question whether fans can get ‘too close’ to the text. I am of course touching on my suggestion earlier that fans can become fetishistic about their chosen artefact. In the above example this has certainly been the case. Yet as Steven Ryfle notes in his article ‘When Fans Go Too Far’, this is only around 1% of the population (in America) who exhibit ‘borderline pathological’ behaviour.

As Brian noted in the lecture, fan cultures can become a problem for ‘legitimate’ culture when they reach this stage, for they place ‘cultural texts on the same level as academic, canonical ones’. (Game of Thrones more poetic than Shakespeare?) Brian also queried us on whether ‘fannish modes of engagement’ have become mainstreamed in contemporary television cultures. For a show like Game of Thrones, I would suggest this could not be truer. Fandom is essential to the success of Game of Thrones. As a genre/period/medieval/drama/action/exposition extravaganza I would suggest the engagement of fans at events like Comic Con and online through the likes of Game of Thrones Wiki is integral to the show’s success. Without the epic proportions of anticipation that follow each word that comes from George R.R. Martin’s mouth, the show would be without its freely exploitable publicity machine that makes this show successful.

Regardless, fans are always going to exist. George R.R. Martin and his team seem to know how to make best use of it – knowledge culture meeting fan culture (H. Jenkins (2006)). Yet the days of viewing fans as ‘irrational’ and fetishistic aren’t over. Thus it’s time to start manipulating this bizarre love into commercial opportunities. Just don’t be too surprised when something goes wrong. Fans are after all, obsessive, hierarchical beasts.

If you can tame the beast, you’ll be sure to reap the rewards.

Heisenborg..?

Breaking Bad

I’ve walked past this piece of graffiti a good couple of hundred times on my way from the car to the office. Yet I never understood what it was. Until now.

After walking past this thing for so long it kind of bemuses me to find it’s a reference to HBO’s hit series, Breaking Bad. I kind of figured it would be a subversive reference to some tradition or group or something that I’ve never heard of, but really, it’s Walt’s alias. Heisenberg.

Come to think of it, the drawing isn’t far off.

Radio Reflection – Part 4

Last week saw me posting about the importance of having a personality in radio.

I’d like to take the opportunity to expand on the importance of having a personality that fits to the station on which you are broadcasting.

Personally, I’d think it appropriate to suggest we all have our own way of representing ourselves – our personality. Yet these can be different for different contexts, friends, places and times.

If we consider the above is true, then one must ask which personality suits the radio station for which you will be presenting.

I, for one, admire the energy and skill of presenters on the likes of Fox FM and Nova to engage a young, vibrant audience through a mix of pop culture, music and gossip. It would not be easy to do. Trust me.

At the same time, a station such as Triple J or Triple R would demand a completely different kind of presenter. Triple R may require a more specific presenter for a distinct segment, I.e. Rob Jan for his Zero G segment, whereas Triple J might sit some way between the more commercial readio stations and the independents.

Thus, which one do I, or you, sit in?

Well, I think we can all find a place regardless of the station. The trick is in knowing what the station wants, and adapting your skills and your personality to suit.

That being said, it’s not easy to do.

Self Assessment – Week 1 to 6

Below you will find my self assessment for weeks 1 – 6.

Assessment Categories

1. Topical posts
– involves 2 compulsory posts each week.
– additional posts

Have managed to complete this task 4 out of the 6 weeks, with the other two weeks coming through with one post for the week. This being said, I have made the decision to extend my posts and make them more at length than I might otherwise, allowing greater exploration and fleshing out of my ideas.

21/25

2. Community
– Comments on peers blogs, analysis, and interaction
– Interaction with peers, academics and an increase in followers will achieve the best mark.

Interaction has been minimal with peers. My analysis has remained on the course side of things and not in the analysis or discussion of what is going on with my peers. This being said, I have managed to increase followers and page views quite a lot since first starting.

17/25

3. Blog structure
– visually satisfying, easy to use, and organised well.
– show a sense of the blog’s community, and allow a follower to navigate with ease. Tags should be used.

I think this is where the blog is at its strongest. Despite a slight lack in communication with the community, I believe my posts adequately the community I am trading within.
The blog is also immensely satisfying visually. It’s clearly organised, bold and easy to use.
Tags also help separate the many influences and inspirations of my posts

25/25

4. Reflection
As apart from topical posts, reflection posts are not as regular. That being said, these posts are supposed to be critical incident type posts. Whereby, they outline a major change in understanding, and epiphany, that could also enlighten followers.

I believe my in depth posts, such as The Creation of An Online Identity and What is Collaboration? are perfect examples of this. They show a critical reflection of course content, and also exhibit my personal voice on the matter.

21/25

Overall:

84/100

Grading

HD:
Visually satisfying blog that can be easily navigated, regular, informing and creative posts implementing all types of media, regular critical reflection and influential interaction with the community.

D:
Great blog structure, easy to use, regular posts that implement variety of media types, regular critical reflection and regular interaction with the community.

C:
Good blog structure, regular posts that show some increase in knowledge, some critical reflection and a sporadic interaction with the community.

P:
Blog can be used with some difficulty, reflection is shallow and does not show critical thinking, posts are irregular yet do show some increase in knowledge, little interaction with community.

F:
Limited to no posts, no interaction with community, no critical reflection and clunky blog structure.

Americanization, transnational television and its effect on national identity

From what was a theory laden lecture I took great interest in Brian’s discussion on transnational TV challenging the idea of national identity.

As Brian noted in the lecture.’TV programs don’t have the same effect as an army in deploying their ideology yet they do work on a cultural level’. So if we are to look at TV like a product, then it seems relatively simple that it can be sold. Packaged with desirable ingredients and marketed to consumers – which inevitably is all of us – it becomes a matter of what you are selling.

For a long period of time it seemed like the idealised family was the most marketable commodity. Think Happy Days, Home Improvement, Family Ties. Selling the family dream back into a family of TV heads. More recently, with the arrival of shows like Friends and Seinfeld, you could say the importance changed from family values to how important friends are in the big city.

Regardless, there’s something fairly common about these shows. They’re all American.

Not to say local shows weren’t popular in the 60’s up until now, yet it would be safe to say that the majority of TV shows existing around these periods were informed by the mass media coming out of the States.

This idea is referred to as Americanization, and it’s distinguished.

Take Israel. Maoz Azaryahu ascertains in his article “Israel Studies” that ‘the introduction of television and Coca-Cola signaled that Israeli society was undergoing a process of cultural re-orientation and that Israel was losing its pioneering character.’

Losing its pioneering character? I’m not so sure they ever were that pioneering. Regardless, for Azaryahu to suggest such a thing should make us realise the power of TV (and Coca Cola). As an invention, TV is perhaps the most pioneering of them all. As a brand, Coca Cola is equally so. These American commodities are having a profound influence on Israel’s cultural landscape. Whether or not Israel would have pioneered its way forward is moot. The fact of the matter is America and it’s adopted TV baby is influencing a traditionalist nation like Israel in a profound way.

Noting how ‘culturally, socially and experientially on opposite sides of the planet’ America and India used to be, Akash Kapur attributes the drastic change that occurred in the early 1990’s as a result of liberalizing its economy. This change allowed trade with America (debatably this would have been occurring under British rule also) and resulted in ‘a newly liberated population… indulging in a frenzy (some called it an orgy) of consumerism and self-expression.’

‘A frenzy’ is certainly what TV has created. Through a careful consideration of content and form, TV is the perfect cultural weapon for normalizing the most obscure of things. The ideal family. The ideal friendship (Friends was broadcast to over 100 countries in its prime). The ideal world.

The American world.

Sadly, this isn’t actually the case. As dramatic and epic as an worldwide takeover by the Americans through TV would be, Hamid Nacify notes that “[we] may think with American cultural products but [we] do not think American”. I think to an extent this is what both Azaryahu and Kapur were getting at. Americanization has flooded our world with American products and these are having an undoubtedly profound influence on us all. Yet they don’t define who we are. They don’t rewire our brains to think like American decedents.

I would argue that my sense of national identity is formulated through the experience of everyday life events that take place separate from cultural products such as TV and varying other forms of media. These merely inform, they don’t form from the outset.

This being said, I’ll leave you with a scary article that suggests perhaps some of us are a little more influenced than others by what we see on the box. Paragraph 7 in the section on Legitimising Torture. Thanks Jack Bauer.

The Creation of An Online Identity – Assessment Task #1

The key word here is creation. In the online environment nothing just exists. It has to be created. Either by you, or someone else. These things form your online identity, either with your consent or against your will.

I wanted to create an online identity that was unmistakeably me, yet separate from my name or me as a tangible person. Weird that may sound, the idea was to take the multiple aspects of my life that inform my view on things and the various media content I consume and spread it across a multitude of platforms, all under the umbrella name yearingcat. That way everything seemed to sit together better. I was happy to mix my thoughts with University work which I previously hadn’t been while using the RAWS RMIT server and as Social media researcher Danah Boyd notes in her article ‘pariticipating in the always on lifestyle’ that ‘when people assume you share everything, they don’t ask about what you don’t share’

So why yearingcat?

Yearingcat is a destination for those who want discussion and answers around the good things in life. Film, TV, travel, clothing. Taking light influence from Tumblr sites like Bosshunting and John and Mario, yearingcat combines visual gratification courteousy of tumblr with semi academic ponderings on TV, film and life in general. To quote Boyd again ‘what I want is to bring people and information into context. It’s about enhancing the experience”

I think to an extent aligning this stuff under my own name would have missed the point. I’ve never seen my name as a brand, a promotable entity. Yet yearingcat has a ring to it. And a story. It can take on a life of its own, fed by my choices.

So I set about creating this brand. I changed my twitter handle from @blakewoneill to @yearingcat, and I began a new wordpress blog under the moniker yearingcat. By taking away a link to rmit through the RAWS server, it felt like I could own my blog a bit more, and make it my own.

So too I started taking my Tumblr a little more seriously. I used to just reblog images that struck me as distinctive for that moment, for that landscape, of that time. While this is still very much at the heart of the yearingcat tumblr, I also now consider how these images reflect upon the blog and other mediums I use, such as twitter.

Through both the yearingcat wordpress and tumblr, you can see the importance I place on the visual. The blog is simple. Bold text, bold colours. I want my words to stand out, and take on their own importance due to the weight behind them, rather than the way they are dressed up.

As a partner to the blog, the yearingcat tumblr is slightly different but still reiterates the importance placed on simplicity. Each image is significant in the way it reflects who I see yearingcat as being. At the same time, each image has a relationship to one another, forming a collage and conversation that speaks multitudes about yearingcat and the person creating it.

Having both changed my twitter handle and added tumblr and wordpress to twitter, it struck me that I wasn’t sure how best to use twitter. My name still predominates the page when you follow the @yearingcat handle, and I think this is in part as a result of my usage prior to this decision to implement yearingcat.
I didn’t want to change my user name to avoid questions. Who is yearingcat? Well, I’ve already answered that to a new audience. My chosen audience. I don’t feel I should need to explain it to my audience of friends.

I am of course touching on the community that should or does surround yearingcat. At the moment it’s purely RMIT based. Interaction exists between pupils and tutors alike. Yet I want to find like-minded people that exists beyond my geographical location. People who also take pleasure from images of New York, or beautifully crafted watches and clothing, or who also have questions of identity and an interest in television and film and the industry that surrounds them. The question is how to attract these people.

How do you attract an audience? Well you get involved in one. As I mentioned before, sites like Bosshunting and John and Mario have had an influence on how I have framed yearingcat as a vessel for my own expression and brand identity. By using wordpress as my hub, tumblr as a visual add on and twitter as a broadcast platform, I should be able to appeal to an audience through interaction on similar sites, and attempt to tap in to their audience and make some of them my own.

So too, I should look into moving yearingcat cross platform. While I foresee wordpress, tumblr and twitter as being integral to the foundations of yearingcat, sites such as pinterest and even linkedin could be useful if I wish to take yearingcat the next step and truly formulate it as a marketable brand.

I can see myself branching out into music through the use of soundcloud, and vimeo is something that I would like to integrate into the yearingcat umbrella also.

Yet it will always be a work in progress. As long as I maintain the yearingcat basics I will be able to test the waters across a variety of social networking and professional sites to see whether these work for the community I end up finding myself within. Whatever that may be.

Radio Reflection – Part 3

How do you have a personality in radio?

Sort of a strange question, but also kind of relevant.

Here’s why.

Without a personality that is distinct and engaging you might as well have songs back announced by a robot and interview questions phoned in from R2D2. We can only assume he would be a knowledgeable little fella due to all that flying and fighting with Luke.

All jokes aside, personality makes a show.

It’s what makes Rob Jan’s Zero G. Peculiarly informed and undeniably interesting.

It’s also what may end up in getting a radio personality fired – think Derryn Hinch.

Either way, it’s what an audience is attracted to. The dulcet tones of the presenter, his or her way of analyzing situation, their energy… all of these make a person worth listening to and help drive audience numbers up.

Transmedia.

Transmedia. Basically, any media that works to extend narrative outside the initial text/artefact. It takes the central text and expands it beyond the diegesis. It gives you an insight into the world you oh so love but want to know more about.

Here are some dot points to make that last paragraph a little easier to digest –

Transmedia:

– extends the narrative
– offers more info to enrich the experience
– creates are more detailed and immersive narrative space
– encourages participation

Some key players in transmedia analysis are the likes of Matt Hills, Frank Rose and Henry Jenkins. Each kind of has their own take on it, which I’ve outline below:

Matt Hills
The creation of a vast and detailed narrative space outside the world of the text

Frank Rose
Transmedia encourages more participation in a program or text. For Frank, this can be deemed ‘Deep Media’ which he acknowledges is interchangeable with ‘transmedia’.

Henry Jenkins
Transmedia creates ‘entry points’ through which consumers can become immersed in a story world.

What is interesting here is that each analyst notes the vast narrative world that transmedia denotes that exists outside the world of the initial text. A world that encourages participation and immersion in the whole being of a certain text.

As immersive as this may be, it must also be of commercial origins. Marsha Kinder coined the term ‘transmedia’ in 1991, noting that franchises using this form of storytelling were making use of ‘commercial transmedia super systems’. After all, you’re offering publicity to a text outside of its original medium. Not only publicity, you open it up to consumers playing a vital role in its preservation, all the while disavowing any ‘commercial manipulation’ (Kinder, 2003).

Yet as successful commercially as this model may be, complex transmedia stories are still not quite reaching audiences.. some work, some don’t. Why? It seems a matter of audience. Though this success rate is something that needs further analysis.

If we are to take audience as an integral ingredient to making transmedia successful, how does one deem the success of the upcoming The Avengers TV Series. Worldwide, the film has taken over $615 Million dollars. It has reached a wide and varied audience. Realistically, the TV series should be a hit right? It will be interesting to see if this is the case.

Guest Lecture – Participatory Projects – Jonathon Hutchinson

I previously posted about how interesting it was to sit through a Skype lecture, and here I will discuss some of the interesting points Jonathon explored in this lecture.

Know your audience
Who the hell are you writing to? Whose imagination are you trying to capture? Inherent in this is finding like minded people, for if you find like minded people, the chances of you having a lasting impression on your audience is greatly multiplied.

The outside person vs. The documentary maker
Differentiate between you as a person (the outside person) and you as the project professional (the documentary maker). While it is important to retain personality and character, and allow these to influence your work, there is a difference between personality with a professional basing and personality left unmanaged.

Identifying your collaborators
Just the same as your audience, you are a much better chance of actually achieving your project if you identify collaborators who are like minded, and thus are as willing as you are to make the project a success. Realistically, you don’t really know what you are going to get from a participatory project, so don’t waster your time on people who ‘might’ contribute, control the variables, ‘work with inertia’ and have a clear goal in mind.

inCORPORATION
Is there a possibility of incorporating a brand or an institution into your project? The project might be beneficial to them, and if you pick the right brand/institution you may get an equally useful outcome in return ie. a display area or place to broadcast from.

And most importantly, keep people in the loop. If you can minimise the barriers of participation you are increasing your chances of success. Plus people want to know what they’re contributing to. They want to understand how their contribution is forming a part of the collaboration. After all, you all need to work together for the participatory project to be a success.