Bob Steele, host of XL103, has been in radio long enough to see it change over the years, but he now believes it’s moving away from a corporate driven focus to become more personal with the listeners. 

“I think radio companies are realizing that if we’re gonna win, if we’re gonna keep a radio as a viable medium,” says Steele. “You know, we’re local, we’re instantaneous and we can’t lose sight of that.”

Because Steele has worked in radio for nearly 40 years, he’s been able to have a bird’s eye view of how radio has transformed. He’s noticed radio companies became more corporate, focused on how much money they’re making instead of having a good relationship with the listeners.

“Radio became very corporate and we kind of lost sight of the fact that we’re a local medium and everything was based on the dollar,” explains Steele. “A lot of these companies are making record profits but not reinvesting any of that back into the product and to me that’s very sad.”

A Calgary native, Steele started his career at the age of 15 at a local station in High River, Alta. Shortly after, he was offered his first full time job in Creston, B.C. Since then, he’s worked in other cities around Canada, like Hamilton and Toronto. He joined XL103 in 2009, where he’s been ever since.

Steele says he’s has had many interesting moments in his career. He saw The Rolling Stones in concert back in 1994, he’s interviewed and hung out with rock stars like Dave Grohl and George Thorogood and was even shot at by a drunken listener while working a remote broadcast for CJAY 92. The listener won a contest on Steele’s program, and was mad at him for not attending a party in celebration of winning this contest.

For Steele, it’s important his listeners have fun listening to his program. Long-time listener Shawn Tiedemann has found that to be the case.

Tiedemann has listened to Steele since his days working at CJAY 92 and says his familiarity is what makes his show so enjoyable as a listener.

“He’s got a voice that a DJ has so when you hear his voice on the radio, you go, ‘oh that’s Bob Steele’...He has fun with people who call in for requests or whatever. He just has fun with them and it’s kind of refreshing.”

Steele has been around for a long time and says despite the seemingly negative changes impacting radio, it is getting better.

Steele says the industry is cyclical, and that it is returning to the way it was when he was starting his career, where the radio experience was intimate and personal and where the listener’s interests were the number one priority.

Steele states that being personal is the way radio can rebuild.

Al Tompson, program director for XL103, says Steele does such a good job of having a personal relationship with the audience. Tompson says that listening to Steele is “like hanging out and having a beer with your buddy.”

Tompson added that Steele has had the number one afternoon radio show in the city of Calgary for a long time, proving that Steele’s local approach has worked incredibly well for him.

Since most stations don’t have evening or all-night shows anymore, Steele thinks this can be a way for stations to connect to listeners for a full 24-hours as well as a way to create more jobs in the industry.

“I think radio companies are coming back around to realize that local is king.”

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