Radio revived the video star: John Campbell to rejoin RNZ as drive-time host, set to add multi-media elements–UPDATED

(UPDATE) Radio New Zealand chief executive Paul Thompson told StopPress RNZ is still thinking through exactly how the programme will take shape. “We aren’t launching the programme until November, a lot of the detailed thinking still needs to happen but it’s clear that John will bring a couple of things to us. One is that our current audiences like and enjoy him and they remember him from Saturday morning, he has an affinity with our current audiences. But he also has huge connections to people who perhaps aren’t that close to people at RNZ at the moment. Including his massive social media following.”

He said the programme itself will have audio components and video. ” … and when he does a set piece video it will be made available on YouTube and wherever else it needs to be. And we will look to develop unique podcast content, something separate from what he will be doing on his programme and that will have a life of its own through iTunes.”

The programme would also be live-streamed online, he said.

“So we see him working across all those elements. And what he brings to all of them is his skill as a broadcaster and journalist and his relevance to lots of New Zealanders.”

He is one element of a wider plan, Thompson said. “And he’s a really important one because Mary Wilson has been promoted and Jim Mora has made it clear he wants to focus on The Panel so he has a gap and it coincides with a time when he was available.”

Thompson said the appointment was exciting. “But we have brought a lot of new blood into the organisation over the last year, so he joins that stable and we have such a strong stable of RNZ talent as well. It’s exciting across the board.”

Original story: August 6

John Campbell is set to take up a position as the drivetime host on Radio New Zealand and it’s likely good news for the broadcaster’s growing digital audience as it plans to use Campbell to front a revamped show featuring streamed video and a podcast. 

The appointment of Campbell was announced today, with Radio New Zealand chief executive Paul Thompson noting Campbell is returning to the organisation that launched his career.

He will be joining as a drive-time news and current affairs presenter.

“We are pleased John is joining us, he started his reporting and broadcasting career with RNZ and was a successful Saturday Morning host for two years. He is an outstanding broadcaster, with an affinity with our audiences and the world-class journalism we produce,” Thompson said.

“He will also bring new audiences to RNZ and help us achieve our charter goal of providing high-quality, engaging journalism and current affairs to a wider range of New Zealanders.”

Campbell joins in September and is to be involved in developing the new drive time show, which will be broadcast from Auckland (he was also thought to be in negotiations with the NBR). The opening for Campbell arose from Jim Mora’s wish to focus his attention on presenting The Panel on weekday afternoons while his Checkpoint co-host, Mary Wilson, has been promoted to a senior management role within the RNZ News team, the release says.

StopPress contacted Thompson and head of digital Glen Scanlon but is awaiting a response.

Radio New Zealand’s data shows the broadcaster is seeing enormous growth with its podcasts, with a recorded 542,000 downloads of its podcast content on iTunes over the month of May.

“This is up from 444,000 in May last year,” RNZ head of digital Glen Scanlon told StopPress earlier.

Given the increased consumption in New Zealand of on-demand content—both audio and visual—these numbers shouldn’t come as a surprise to too many.

But what is perhaps a little more curious is that Radio New Zealand hadn’t put all that much effort into driving these levels of engagement when we last spoke.

“We haven’t really targeted it yet,” said Scanlon. “That’s largely re-working of the really good radio content we already have … Podcasting has been around for a long time now, and it’s had very steady growth over that time. But it’s not something that just appeared. ”

Scanlon shared what he thought made a good podcast.

“For me, it’s a combination,” Scanlon says. “All the personality in the world won’t make the story-telling great. You need a good story to tell. I think that’s the starting point. And when you get that combination of really great storytelling mixed with a great personality telling it, you get something that’s really appealing.” 

Thompson told StopPress earlier that the executive team is looking at ways to potentially commercialise its podcast offering. 

“Because we’re publicly funded, any podcasts that we created, which had a commercial element, that content would have to be freely available on our website as well, which probably makes it a little more difficult to commercialise.”

Campbell said he was thrilled to be returning to his roots.

“Radio New Zealand’s commitment to professional journalism that questions, illuminates, celebrates and holds to account, is an immensely valuable resource in the life of this country.”

“My job is to hold to those core values, to continue that commitment to the highest quality journalism, but also to expand our reach beyond the confines of radio and into a world I could only have dreamed of when I began as a journalist, at Radio New Zealand, in 1989.”

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