Monday, 5 August 2013

How Radio Catered for a Changing Audience

Radio audiences have been picked at from here there and everywhere over the years from the likes of TV, video and computer games. However radio is still here and still a popular part of many people's day - as we found out in the blog Radio's Battle to Keep its Listeners. In today's blog we look at how radio has managed to survive the audience grab (survive to date at least).


At this point we need to ask the question why is radio still such a massive part of the publics social life? Below are four ways radio has changed, used its USP's and kept audiences engaged and interested in keeping radio in their lives.

1. Two Way Conversations

 In the early days the increased availability of the home phone created a new way to interact with radio. Unlike with a letter the phone allowed the audience to get an instant response from radio stations and at times speak to the presenter on air to vent their opinions. Phone Ins and competitions which offered the audience more participation and rewards for listening were introduced.
Radio become a personal, approachable and rewarding medium - these are three of radio's many usp's (unique selling points).
 

 2. Special Requests

Until recently buying music was expensive and time consuming - however radio offered a low cost solution to audiences music needs. Pop music stations opened up and offered their audiences request shows. The audience was invited to contact the show by phone to request songs and which would be played on the air with in minutes. "Instantness" and spontaneity are other of radios USP's.

 

3. Easy Tuning

FM took over from MW(AM) as the dominant radio broadcasting frequency in the 1970’s. With this lead to easier tuning and better sound quality which offered the listener and easier and better sounding experience.

 
4. Split Frequencies 

The splitting of frequencies and the introduction of more local radio stations gave audiences more choice on what they listened to and how. 

Radio stations could also target smaller niches and better serve specific audiences. For example: In March of 1989 Metro FM (Newcastle, UK) opted to play pop music for a younger and more general audiences on FM under the Metro brand.

While Metro Radio on MW changed to Great North Radio or GNR. GNR was aimed at an older audience and played golden oldies and included more spoken word content.
 
 
Spoken word content and slower paced music suited the lesser quality of a MW broadcast. While the quality of sound on FM was perfect for the pop music market.

This meant that the kids did not have to listen to the same music which their parents were listening to and particular audiences had access to presenters who talked the way they talked and played the music which they were into.

Radio morphed and changed to suit the audience. Radio became more useful, more understanding of its audience and to many it became a companion.


This quote from radio theory writer Berland. J is a great explanation of what radio has become.

“Habitual presence” 

“Radio has been expected to accommodate itself (…) into every situation… are you brushing your teeth, turning a corner, buying or selling jeans, or entering inventory into a computer? So much the better (…) Radio is humble and friendly, it follows you everywhere.” (Berland. J 1993:104)

 
 
What's Next?
That's the past and the present covered in this blog and radio has so far radio lasted the test of time. However the future for radio is not so clear as we found out in the Podcast what is the future of talk radio.

What the next decade holds is yet to be decided and no-one is really sure what is to come. Want to get an idea of the possibilities ahead for the radio industry check out our tech blogs and Podcasts including...
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