Staying Passionate About Radio

As media consumption evolves, the industry needs to explore new ways to stay innovative, keep pace with change
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Rosie Smith

STOCKHOLM — We as an industry all share a passion for radio and its future. However, passion alone cannot sustain any industry. It is important that we work on keeping listeners, attracting younger audiences and ensuring radio is available on all devices and platforms. This is no small task in an increasingly competitive media-filled world.

Anders Held, project manager for Radiodays Europe commented that radio is about emotions and listener engagement. “With passionate hosts and producers, radio can easily captivate listeners with a direct, live experience and a flow of conversation, like no other medium; creating magic moments on air, making people smile or cry. Who can’t be passionate about radio? I see the need for innovation in this time of change in media consumption. We need to let our love for radio be a passion for progress in our medium.”

YOUNG LISTENERS
In Europe, listening figures remain high. According to the EBU, in the 15 largest European markets, radio reached 370 million individuals (83.4 percent of the measured population) weekly in 2013, equaling an average listening time of three hours per day. In the United States, Edison research showed that of the four hours five minutes of audio on average consumed each day, more than 52 percent of that time goes to broadcast radio on all its various platforms. Radio thus reaches people like no other media.

The trend among young people to view video content via mobile presents challenges for both radio and traditional TV. Analysys Mason estimates a steady growth of Internet-enabled mobile devices with 890 million by 2017. Radio thus needs to keep pace to attract younger listeners.

The rise of the vlogger (video blogger), for example, is currently overtaking traditional media in enticing younger audiences. And while TV may be a threat to online video stars, radio is the perfect complement, offering an alternative audience experience without taking away from their online viewers. Broadcasters have begun embracing this passionate group of online DJs. BBC Radio 1 for instance gives guest slots to these personalities, all of whom like to share their lives and music in very much the same way as DJs of the past.

Radio not only plays a role in the future media landscape but in the social fabric of daily life. Talk radio provides interesting debates on social and political issues. As a political device, radio reaches nationally, locally, across social groups, specific communities and constituents. Politicians need to be passionate about radio as one of the means to interact with a large number of potential voters.

Public broadcasters also need to ensure radio has spectrum in the future to continue to evolve, change, digitize and provide free to air services to all. Broadcasters therefore must to continue to lobby country administrations to ensure radio is on the political agenda at the WRC-15 and beyond.

This includes a strong consistent message from industry players throughout Europe toward the European Commission to ensure that — in the midst of information from the mobile sector — radio is not forgotten.

As “radio futurologist” James Cridland says, “There is no medium which is more intimate, and more loved, than radio. A few years ago, when the BBC threatened one of their stations with closure, thousands of people came to protest outside its doors. Passion is the universal reaction to radio, across Europe. It’s great to see passion for radio in all its forms — from FM to DAB+, podcasts and apps. I’m looking forward to discovering radio’s passion for the future.”

PROGRESS
Commercial broadcasters are on the front line in keeping the need for radio passion alive with advertisers. Lenja Faraguna, “Radio-nista,” challenger of the status quo and marketing coach is clear on why radio advertising continues to be of value to companies.

“With one radio ad I can instantly create as many ads as there are listeners! When I create a love affair between the visual verbs, brandable chunks, SFX, music and silence all listeners see a different story in their heads and some let me touch them heart-to-heart.” The power of radio is often underestimated by creative agencies, copywriters and media buyers. The industry needs to create memorable and effective radio advertising campaigns (instead of just advertisements) and thus attract ad spend.

With the growth of online stations, radio has to develop effective measuring tools. Discussions and debate must continue. Questions such as how to improve measurement so that advertisers remain interested in radio (ensuring it reaches the audience that’s right for them) and how help advertisers see the power of their radio campaign message need to be considered.

We all share the passion for radio and its future. The broadcast industry needs to work together to share future strategies.

By sharing the challenges and opportunities that all radio stations worldwide face, we can keep radio moving forward. Radiodays Europe 2015 will be about “Passion Meets Progress,” and brings together leading radio executives, experts and the industry to share their Passion for Radio’s future, 15–17 March 2015 in Milan.

Rosie Smith is press officer for Radiodays Europe.

Radio World welcomes other points of view. Please send comments to
rwieditor@nbmedia.com.

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