4 minute read

I’m sure most of you have heard of the 10,000 hour rule.

First proposed by a Swedish psychologist and later made famous in Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers— it states that exceptional expertise requires at least 10,000 hours of practice.

Thinking about this concept from a radio perspective, 10,000 hours of broadcast averaged out at 4 hours a day 5 days a week would take around 10 years.

That means on Australian metro radio right now there are just 6 10,000 hour shows.

Kyle and Jackie O.

Hamish and Andy (yes they are on the air for 2 hours, but have been together for 15 years).

Hughesy and Kate.

Nathan and Nat.

Amanda and Jonesy.

“The Rub” on MMM.

Firstly, let’s just stop for a second to appreciate this incredible achievement of not just surviving but thriving through 10,000 hours of live radio.

As Bruce Springsteen, who is well and truly part of the 10,000 hour club for rock stars said:

The audience is not brought to you or given to you; it’s something that you fight for. You can forget that, especially if you’ve had some success. Getting an audience is HARD. Sustaining an audience is HARD. It demands a consistency of thought, of purpose, and of action over a long period of time.

The Boss has just nailed it. “A consistency of thought, of purpose and of action over a long period of time”. That’s exactly what these great shows have committed to, and their results speaks for themselves.

Finding a hot new breakfast or drive combination is one thing, but FM radio is littered with many talented teams who, for whatever reason, just couldn’t go the distance. Yes, selecting the cast for your next breakfast show is the important first step, but once you have them on the air and they’re starting to build an audience, the focus then needs to shift to “keeping the band together”.

Having worked with both Hamish and Andy and Kyle and Jackie in the early stages of their careers, whilst they were completely different shows, the one thing they did have in common was that their relationships were built on trust, respect, honesty and a total commitment to each other.

In fact Hamish and Andy spent as much time and effort on the team as they did on the show.

“The show” was the content that listeners would hear and interact with on their social platforms.

“The team” was the environment they had created which allowed them do their best work.

This meant those little niggles were never allowed to fester like they do with most shows. They would commit to their half-yearly team review sessions with the same intensity as they would when planning for a caravan of courage. This is where they would discuss openly and honestly what was working and what they needed to learn from any misfires or issues that may have arisen over the previous 6 months.

All of this meant that when their opponents were having the “he said/she said” battles with their content director stuck in the middle as the referee, the boys were going at a million miles an hour creating their next big idea.

I’m sure Nathan and Nat, Hughesy and Kate, Amanda and Jonesy and the boys on “the Rub” have all made their own commitments to each other to ensure that “the band stays together” which on a companion medium like radio is the holy grail.

Lorne Michaels, SNL executive producer believes in the 10,000 hour concept.

I think Malcolm Gladwell’s point about the 10,000 hours of practice is valid. Sometimes you blow a line, or that thing you’re completely confident about falls apart. There’s no blaming the marketing campaign. You just weren’t good. They didn’t laugh. It was a big moment and you weren’t there for it. And it’s really hard to deal with, but you go through it, and you learn, and you do it again next week.

So if you’ve just found yourself inside show that feels like it could go the distance and you have a genuine chemistry with your on-air partner, now is the time to sit down and talk about how you can make this work for the long term.

If you can agree on your “consistency of thought, purpose and action” over a long period of time, you may one day join the 10,000 hour radio club.