Dennis Clark is the vice president of talent development at Clear Channel Radio, the world's largest commercial radio network. He was in Dubai recently to work with presenters at Arabian Radio Network, which encompasses eight stations including Dubai Eye 103.8 and Al Khaleejiya 100.9. He has trained some of the biggest names in the industry, including Chris Tarrant, Ryan Seacrest and Elvis Duran.
What's it like working with such big names?
Guys like that … work really hard on their brand and craft. They're constantly asking to refresh - "Am I doing well, am I staying relevant, am I modern, am I still in touch with my audience?" That sort of thing. But I love working with the young talent that have these natural human characteristics that you just can't wait to channel through a microphone.
How have the online world and smartphones changed listener habits?
Quite a bit. The thing we need to do is figure out how to monetise it, that'll be the next adventure. Radio is undergoing an evolution of becoming even more personalised than we could have ever imagined and over the years we've tried to personalise AM/FM radio stations to just have the largest audience focused on one type of person, and now due to technology radio can personalise itself. My company has built a new app, taking all of our individual radio stations, putting them on one app so that way people have more than 1,000 radio stations to choose from.
Don't people prefer to listen to their own music instead of radio on their smartphones?
It's really fascinating. We just did a study in the US, assessing the difference between personal music libraries versus online radio listening and people really feel disconnected after a while listening to their personal music libraries and that's why they choose to stop listening to an album they might have downloaded and just want to listen to new music. People still love the human connection.
What's the most common piece of advice you give to presenters?
Be thoughtful, deliberate and well planned with your words, and just be honest. Speak like a friend and not an announcer, people are tired of being talked to and talked at. They just want a friend and you don't want to hurt people's feelings. With social media you can't hide any more, there is a massive responsibility with what you broadcast, what you say.
What's been your favourite experience?
When a brand-new show starts and you believe in it and it becomes successful, but not an overnight success. I love the real super-slow growth of a station or a show, you get to know somebody and you earn their trust. You have a few life experiences with them, that's how you have a deeper connection with a new friend and I think radio stations are like those kinds of situations.
And what's been the worst situation in radio?
When something or somebody lets you down. Nobody likes to be lied to, nobody likes it when somebody isn't telling the truth and listeners and broadcasters find out the truth later. That's why some shows go away, they're not grounded in reality, in truth.