We have all heard of National Record Store Day and National Independent Bookstore Day. They have become events in our neighborhoods. Even more noteworthy, they have taken on significant meaning in the lives of consumers and fans.
Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016, is a day to talk about a thing we like, radio. In fact, National Radio Day lets us pause and talk about how radio has meaning in our lives, and in the lives of our audience.
National Radio Day has emerged as a moment for radio, whether commercial, noncommercial, AM or FM, to remind audiences of its value today. While the industry is seeing pressure from digital and streaming, National Radio Day is our chance to unite and show listeners and ourselves that, in so many cities, radio is community as well as memories.
Some people claim radio is in decline. However, radio listenership is strong, in spite of competition from streaming and podcasts. In addition, radio is still a cornerstone in communities, no matter if it’s a low-power FM station or a 100,000 W full-power outlet. For rural areas and small towns, radio is a vital resource for conversation, emergency preparedness and culture. In big and mid-sized cities, radio cuts across lines of race, class and politics, giving areas with seemingly little in common a chance to come together. TV and the web just aren’t as intimate or accessible as radio.
Provocative talk shows, music that is an unforgettable part of our summer and essential information from trusted sources are our carpool companions, DJs become our friends, and audiences have a passion for the stations themselves that is completely different than what they have with TV or the internet. Whereas National Record Store Day has its vinyl fanatics and music purists, National Radio Day is a chance for radio stations to celebrate the impact we have on the lives of residents, and for listeners to show some love.
Last year, National Radio Day trended on social media with dozens of stations nationwide rallying listeners with #NationalRadioDay. Over 20,000 tweets is fantastic, but radio stations and fans have only scratched the surface. The more stations that participate, the better it gets. Can radio stations generate 50,000 tweets this year? We will find out when #NationalRadioDay rises again on Aug. 20.
There are many ways for radio stations like yours to participate in National Radio Day.
Again this year, social media will be the hotspot. Please encourage listeners and staff to use #NationalRadioDay in order to get the hashtag trending, and to raise our collective profile. This time around, we’re encouraging radio selfies from listeners, for radio staff members to tweet about their roles, and for stations to stream a clip from their on-air studios to their fans. Some of our favorite posts last year were a Periscope of someone touring a radio archive, station selfies featuring fans and radio hosts, and radio professionals who’ve worked at several stations to walk down memory lane by listing the many stations they’ve worked at.
If you want to make an event for National Radio Day, throw yourself a party, or a concert, or do outreach at one of the many summer festivals in your city. Maybe this is your chance to partner with area nonprofits, colleagues at other stations or other local allies to do promotions, drives or other community service. You can make National Radio Day a talking point during an air break. Think of National Radio Day as an excuse to talk about yourself, do an event, and engage your listeners. It’s also a time to talk about and show how truly essential radio is in the United States.
The hope of organizers of National Radio Day is to make radio more visible and create deeper relationships with the people who make it as well as the people who listen to it. Radio is easy to take for granted, because it’s in our cars, restaurants and smartphone apps. Aug. 20 helps us not fly under the proverbial radar, but to take our place as a key voice.
Radio stations that wish to participate in National Radio Day are encouraged to get listed at www.nationalradioday.com. It’s not required at all, but being in touch helps radio stations get promoted and for us all to work together.
Ernesto Aguilar is membership program director with the National Federation of Community Broadcasters and Sabrina Roach is with Brown Paper Tickets, an event services and promotion company.