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The medium of radio today is no longer just radio as earlier generations knew it because radio has evolved into audio with an entire range of possibilities for listeners of both sexes. A radio station today is an “entertainment company” and over the past few years has succeeded in rising like the phoenix from the ashes despite negative projections. The comparison is misleading because radio was never really gone. It was always there and is not without reason considered the medium that is our number one daily companion.
Getting up every weekday morning and walking over to turn on the stereo and wake up with the morning show of my favorite station is something foreign to my nine-year-old son. He is used to telling a smart speaker in the living room what he wants to hear depending on how he’s feeling. He also asks for the latest weather report so that he knows whether he can ride his scooter to school or should better take the bus. Still, despite audio, there is still a lot of radio. The presenters of various favorite stations “talk to him”, offer contests or concert tickets, that he is still too young for, but be likes the conversation, even if it isn’t taking place physically. “They talk to me, and I like that,” says my grade schooler and reflecting what radio still stands for: interaction with the listening audience, and the great ability of a mass medium to meet every listener where he or she happens to be located.
The fact that a series of complex strategy processes, market analyses and marketing campaigns are behind this is something a nine-year-old and anyone else still fascinated by radio probably isn’t aware of. Video killed the radio star! Certainly not.
Radio fosters a sense of trust and unlike the playlists of Spotify and co. is neither faceless nor impersonal. The much-cited content is “king” and ensures that people will listen in again. Radio is lived emotion that is contagious and, because of the many new features such as pod casts, on-demand content, but also creative major promotions, it cannot be put into one box that is only occasionally opened with a grinding and gnashing of the teeth.
Radio as a must-have in cars
According to Rajar, the official British body in charge of collecting data on radio use, 895 of the adult British population listened to the radio at least once per week in 1999. In 2021, over two decades later, the listening audience has remained constant. Streaming may pose a new challenge, but radio refuses to “back off” despite many predictions.
The automotive industry and the radio sector also profit from each other. According to an international study published in November 2021 by Edison Research, radio is still the most popular source of entertainment in the car around the world. 90%, literally almost everyone who took part in the survey, believed radio should be part of the standard equipment in any vehicle. This is a trend that is consistent across all age groups and indicates a strong demand among current and future car buyers.
And what’s more: if the most appreciated standard audio functions in a new car are considered, radio still ranks higher among those surveyed (rated “important” by 89%) before USB ports (86%) and the availability of Bluetooth (85%). The importance of so-called smartphone mirroring technology (Android Auto 65%, Apple CarPlay 54%) came in much lower on the ranking list.
The power of radio in the car and what Radioplayer Worldwide can do specifically in the automotive industry can be seen in this Video.
Innovation & Challenge
The pandemic has also shown us that we cannot imagine life without radio. People want to be addressed and touched by content. No playlist in the world is capable of building this emotional bridge as good as radio does day after day. It may be that radio people at one point or another have underestimated or even missed out on the rise in popularity and prevalence of smart speakers, as detractors put it. I don’t believe it, however. We, those of us who love radio and are involved in programming just have to stop seeing the digital audio world dominated by technology as a threat and consider it a chance. Above all else, however, we have to stop complaining. Instead, we should consider what the market has to offer and develop it to our favor and with the means at our disposal. We radio broadcasters also don’t have to be able to do everything ourselves and on our own, but need to venture onto unknown terrain and join together with experts in technology, develop innovations and push the advantages they bring for the benefit of our radio industry. Radio has lost nothing of its brilliance and can move people as it never has before. Let’s have the courage to go in a new direction and not close our eyes to developments that sound too technical!
Artificial intelligence (AI) does not have to be a disaster scenario and lead to staff cuts. AI can be used to use resources more effectively and efficiently. Resources that can be put to better use somewhere else.
Yours, Andrea Heidrich
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