Traditional vs. New Media… Radio Won’t Die!

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I started writing this blog back in June, initially intending for it to be my first blog in this course. But, it’s been sitting in draft form, waiting for me to organize my thoughts. Well, with the help of a peer’s recent blog (“Launch Your Podcast Today” by JOHNH), I’ve come full circle, so here I go!

For the past eight years, I have been building a career for myself in one of the most traditional forms of media: radio. However, discussions around the boardroom table are no longer focused on music charts, what concert tickets we’re giving away, or where the next live on location broadcast is happening. One of the hottest agenda items up for discussion in today’s radio environment is social and new media. And not just “let’s post funny stuff and see how many likes we get” social media. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube – pick your poison – have all become an integral part of our business.

JOHNH suggested a number of reasons podcasts are becoming more popular and while I’m not one to listen to them, I completely agree and can appreciate why many people choose podcasts over radio. However, traditional media is continuously looking for opportunities to integrate with these new tools and radio is an example of how social media and new technology can be used to our advantage and not result in radio dying a slow death (which is currently happening to print newspapers).

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Photo: i-am-bored.com

5 Reasons Radio Won’t Die

  1. It’s mobile. From individual radio apps to broadcasting apps such as TuneIn and even the ability to listen live through Facebook, you can typically take your local radio station anywhere you have cell signal. And, if you aren’t a fan of your local station, you can listen to radio stations around the world if you choose. Mobile is dominating… in 2013, 83% of Canadian households had at least one active cell phone (CWTA.ca). And, those cell phones, can become handheld radio devices.
  2. The latest in-car technology is keeping AM/FM radio as an option. Infotainment systems will soon be available in all car makes and models. While they allow drivers to sync up their mp3 players, phones, satellite radio and so on, studies show that drivers want to keep the AM/FM radio option, primarily for news and traffic updates, to listen to their favourite personalities and for local content. Radio listeners have an average of 6-7 stations they listen to. Don’t like what that one is playing? You’re likely to hit #2 or 3 on your radio preset… there’s a variety of programming to listen to.
  3. Fewer annoying ads. In the not so distant future, technology will allow terrestrial radio broadcasters to strategically air specific commercials for a specific audience. For example, if a beer company wants to target males aged 25-54 for their new product, radio stations will be able to play the commercials for that specific group of listeners (likely through the use of radio apps and infotainment systems). This will allow advertisers to be more targeted and radio broadcasters to play ads that are more appealing to the audience as opposed to “broad casting”. Radio can also offer integrated marketing solutions for advertisers, meaning clients can buy radio commercials, have web ads on radio websites, can give away their product in radio contests, and so on.
  4. Terrestrial radio is adapting. Podcast listeners enjoy the ability to access content when they want it. The ease of downloading an episode can be addicting (just as Netflix leads to binge watching). Radio companies will eventually shift away from morning shows being 6:00am-10:00am, afternoon drive being 2:00pm-7:00pm, and so on. Announcers who are “content stars” and who are loved by the audience will get more air time and may not have a set shift. Then, their content will be available for download from the radio station’s app, website or iTunes. The latter is already happening in some markets (example: 102.1 The Edge – “Kustom Kulture Radio”).
  5. In markets of all sizes, terrestrial radio thrives on the same thing… being local! Sure, you can look at your weather app to see what it’s like outside and you can follow major news sources on Twitter for breaking headlines. But, if there’s a community event happening in your neighbourhood, if there’s been a string of break ins near by, or if it’s a snow day in your school district, you won’t get that information on a large TV network. Listen to your local radio station or head over to their Facebook page and they will likely be talking about the latest happenings in your community.

Terrestrial radio is traditional in the sense that we still use a transmitter tower to reach the masses. But, now with new technologies and social media at our fingertips, radio is shifting from a one way conversation to a fully integrated listener experience.

Do you still listen to your local radio station, despite the surge in podcasts, YouTube, etc.? Do you follow any radio stations on Facebook, Twitter, or other social platforms?

I am so proud to have taken this course and have appreciated all of your comments and enjoyed your blogs! Keep it up! 🙂

4 thoughts on “Traditional vs. New Media… Radio Won’t Die!

  1. I do still listen to the radio! In the morning I dial in to the Hot Tub on the new Hot 89.9. The morning show is full of laughs and it is a great way to start the day. I also follow them on Twitter and Instagram. I confess, I have never watched a podcast but I will now! Thank you for your blogs Holly – you are a natural!

  2. Touché, Holly! I’m glad I gave you the inspiration to write that — with people like you working in the industry I’m sure traditional radio has nothing to worry about! You raised some great points. And although podcasts will undoubtedly continue to increase, I don’t think it necessarily has to result in the death of radio. I’m sure they can co-exist. In fact, as you noted, social media can actually enhance what radio has to offer. And, the proliferation of podcast content is most probably only going to challenge traditional radio to raise the quality level of their programming. You made me rethink my morning habits, and I must admit (apologetically) that I still do occasionally listen to a local sports station. And you’re right, the ability to listen live to compelling personalities and current content (more than just twitter feeds) is something that podcasts don’t really deliver.

  3. Every morning I get my news on the radio as I get ready for work. It’s likely because my other half enjoys it and also because we’ve cut out TV in our lives. As I transition to work I’ll swich to a light-hearted morning radio show that makes me laugh all the way to work. I don’t even have CDs in my car any more! I threw them all out as my phone holds all of my music if I ever need it. If its not traditional radio I’m listening to then I’ll download podcasts to listen to on a long road trip.

  4. I am devoted CBC listener and was raised on radio. Really agree with you that radio is adapting. One of my new favourite stations that I listen to is WWOZ out of New Orleans. I didn’t know it’s referred to as The Crescent City! It plays blues and jazz and is mainly volunteer-driven. You would never accuse it of being too slick but that’s part of it’s charm.

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