Interesting days ahead for radio

We really have never seen a time like this in our radio industry, with redundancies in great numbers, management overhauls, and such a public letting of good radio blood.

While these are particularly tough times, and in some cases outright cruel times, there is a silver lining for an industry that might be feeling a little sorry for itself.

There has to be an end to the culling soon — and ultimately order will return.

Whether you work in a commercial or a non-commercial environment it has been a try time to be in the radio industry. There has been a movement to streamline, go online and minimise costs, as with any business that is feeling the squeeze.

You might think this movement is having an effect on listenership and advertising but they are not.

Of the three traditional media streams — including radio, newspapers and television — radio is bucking the trend.

While newspaper readers and television watchers are finding other new media ways to access their content, radio listeners continue to listen (despite the growth of podcasts).

The obvious question is why?

Australians are so reliant on our cars where the main form of entertainment continues to be radio.

We love the talkback format as a way to break our isolation and develop a sense of community. Traditional talkback radio has many qualities of new forms of social media; it provides a live stream and allows users to contribute to conversation rather than just consume information.

Music stations have really been able to identify with their target market, they use social platforms to build and develop relationships with their listeners. In short, they have been first to adapt and understand better than any of the traditional media platforms how their market likes to consume their media.

The quality of Australian radio continues to be excellent and it is delivered live so we get fast, relevant, up-to-the-minute delivery of content. The quality of broadcasting remains exceptional and the talent who are being interviewed is engaging and inspiring.

Peter Maher, the owner of former media monitoring company Rehame and fill-in breakfast presenter for 3AW, described talkback radio as “the barometer of public opinion” back in 1999.

That comment is still true today and is the reason why corporates, governments and industries are interested in what is said on radio. It is radio that has a growing audience year in, year out.

Unlike other traditional media, radio can celebrate success in growth, value and listenership.

Radio is here to stay and will be for the next 50 years.

We need it more than it needs us and that might actually be its key to success.

The competition is strong, the advertisers are still keen and the audience is still moving in a way that makes radio essential for news, entertainment and engaging with thought provoking ideas.

Radio is strong, it is viable and it is able to really connect with the Australian population. This is one traditional media that continues to emerge and reinvent itself as a thriving media in its own right.

The challenge now is for each station to stay competitive, local and relevant in a workplace that is making this more and more difficult. We really do have interesting days ahead of us.

Nicholas Hayes is Managing Director of Media Stable.

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