Monday, 13 May 2013

Did Radio Make the Wrong Digital Choice?

In today's blog we ask the question did radio make the wrong choice at the start of the digital information age? We also look at what content producers need to do to move forward into the future. The evidence for today's blog was gathered during my recent Masters degree at the University of Sunderland.

Did Radio Dropped the Ball at the Start of the Digital Revolution?

DAB Radio

In 1994 DAB Digital radio was introduced in the UK.

The plan was for radio to jump on TV's digital revolution bandwagon - digital TV was exciting audiences and offered many benefits over traditional broadcasting. 

However the result was less than encouraging in DAB radio.

Radio theorist Chris Priestman spelt out the situation in his quote below (from his 2002 book Web Radio)...

“Progress on bringing portable, affordable receivers to tempt more than a handful of enthusiasts into buying has been painfully slow.” (Priestman, C 2002: XII)

 So DAB is and always was an under performer so what was the next "digital wonder" up the radio industries sleeve?

 Radio on the TV

  Another jump at TV's digital bandwagon came in the form of radio on the TV

Radio via TV digital boxes, cable and satellite were introduced - bringing multi-channel and multi-regional radio to the UK. 

(Like DAB radio sets) DAB via TV did not wow audiences or offer listeners enough quality benefits over traditional radio. 

So that wasn't the right move either... but what was?

What was the Right Future?

The introduction of internet into homes and work places was the biggest turning point in the radio world for some time.

In the mid to late nineties online radio streaming took off. For the fist time radio stations who broadcast online were no longer bound by the range of transmitters and could reach a global audience for a relatively low costs.

Niche radio stations which were not sustainable in small local areas could survive on the internet with a world wide audience.

In this digital information age (which we are all in) we as content creators need to learn from successful online broadcasters. We all need to become more selective and target niche audience and markets.

Niche content can and is surviving in the digital age, below we find out how. 

Listen to the MYOBPlayer!

What you need to offer: 

Knowledgeable presenters and expert guests offering useful and engaging content that can't be found elsewhere 

Offer a greater listening experience than the large broadcasters offer (broadcast via app with radio shows running alongside related photos, links, blogs and videos)
You need to know who you are talking too (what is it that your niche audience wants and what are there needs?), 

Tailored (and measurable) audience promotions, adverts and paid content linked to content (which is useful to your niche audience needs)

Keep operational costs low and broadcast quality high(using digital and online technology) 

Many internet radio stations and podcast fail! However there is a good number of indie radio producers and companies making niche internet and digital content which survives in the busy media market.  Using the above advice will help you serve audiences in the way which they now expect while making you the money you need to keep afloat. It's not easy but it can can be done.

Next time we find out how the global digital age destroyed local radio as we knew it. Plus we ask could it also save local broadcasting(if used correctly)?

for more info on broadcasting in the digital age check ot our tech blogs...

Web Streaming: Why You Should get Involved

What is Podcast & How can I Benefit

Podcast Wordpress vs Blogger 

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