If there is one media platform that can claim surviving the digital ice age, that would surely be the radio.
Back in 1981, MTV launched its music channel with the iconic video “Video Killed the Radio Star”, starting an era of cable video domination over radio.
Of course, over the years, the radio’s operating model has changed, it had to adapt to the times. Technically, it has shifted (or is still shifting) from analogue to digital broadcasting, coming a long way from the early days of Reginald Fessenden, who was the first person to transmit human voice using radio waves back in 1906.
With the introduction of digital media, the TV and print industry’s user experience changed drastically. Users shifted completely from one platform to another, from paper to screen, from TV to mobile, and from fixed location access to mobile consumption anywhere.
With radio, it was more of an evolution rather than a revolution. From a consumer point of view, radio was always a secondary experience. The radio grid was built for people’s on-the-move lifestyle. People still and will always listen to radio at home, at work or on the move while in their cars. The main difference is that you are no longer limited to live programming, but rather to an additional array of preferred “Listen on Demand” shows, specialized content and podcasts. Yet again, new opportunities, new technologies but the user experience has somehow remained the same.
Social media played in favor of the radio and added an extra level of interactivity. The only engagement in the older days was that phone call. I remember staying on the phone for one hour trying to get through in order to participate in that competition or to request a specific song. Nowadays you can interact with a live show across an array of platforms. Over phone, mobile, sms, App, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.
Radio stations, shows and hosts have become publishers not just broadcasters. Radio hosts in particular have become social media celebrities. Many of the radio related accounts and pages are amongst the most popular social media pages. They are fun, young, daring and have accumulated lots of followers. They can post about anything, anytime. On social media they have nothing to loose, everything they publish adds up positively to their offering and does not challenge their original content like with the TV and print industries, but rather compliments it.
The radio industry has evolved, and will keep on evolving. Every emerging challenge is faced with new opportunities and rewards. In our case, new users as well.