‘Radio is the theatre of the mind
Television is the theatre of the mindless’
‘Radio is the most intimate and socially personal medium in the world’
Harry Von Zell
Despite having so many things separating us, humans happen to have so much in common. If not music, then culture and if not culture then history. One thing that has stayed on eternal from our childhood is something that isn’t so flashy and doesn’t seem to fit into our modern 21st century. This space and medium that has been the greatest informer and entertainer at the same time without having a face to see, it just needed you to listen; and listen we did. If they honestly thought it was dead then they have another thing coming. Radio isn’t dying, to be honest, it is making a very decent living in its home here with humans.
Competition has nothing on us!
I’m not talking about the life support kind of living, I’m talking about living well and okay. Radio is still alive. But it’s not been an easy fight, take a look at the life of the television; how it was once the royalty of the world and now it is down on the ground unable to make a comeback even if it tried.
With the appearance of streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music, the concepts of Podcasts and all that, it felt like Radio was on its way to its final destination; it was fighting a losing battle. But that’s the difference between class and confidence. Radio didn’t try to create a new way of doing its things, it didn’t try and pull off campaigns to get people tuning in and listening again, it just relaxed and went on doing what it’s always been doing. And it worked. Like the quote I used in The Evolution of Marketing, ‘sometimes the best marketing is no marketing at all’ – and radio is a testimony to that.
Radio uses the technology of radio waves to carry information, such as sound, by systematically modulating properties of electromagnetic energy waves transmitted through space. Starting in late 1894, Guglielmo Marconi began pursuing the idea of building a wireless telegraphy system based on Hertzian waves (radio). After the war, commercial radio broadcasting began in the 1920s and became an important mass medium for entertainment and news.
Talk about a veteran in the game and then, fast-forward to the 2000s, we have streaming coming into the mix. Now you don’t even need radio anymore, you could just search whatever track it is on Spotify and Apple Music, once you identify it, search for it on YouTube and voila – get the lyrics and the video. Almost felt like everyone had forgotten the nostalgic feeling of sitting on a bus and hearing a song you really appreciate. Those moments could make you get interactive with strangers about an issue that was being discussed by a panel on a radio show, or how drivetime shows can just hook you up with some old folk music with a touch of jazz.
Radio is still King
We grew up where radio ruled and it still does. Why?
Passengers will sit in cars and would rather listen in on an issue being discussed on air than use their earphones to listen to music that they carry everywhere they go. That’s what makes radio special. The fact that it can be entertaining, informative and interactive at the same time. So the question is are music-streaming services like Spotify a threat to the future of radio?
Only if the latter industry thinks of itself purely as a distribution platform, rather than a form of content, according to Mixcloud’s Ben Lawrence. Radio is content in the form of news, interviews and stories. Radio content is booming, it is our change in consumption that gives the impression that it is dying. If all those streaming platforms are enough, why do stars still grant radio interviews? The sheer number of stars whose lives have been transformed by a radio interview is quite a handful.
Let the competition be warned
It works in a pretty interesting way too. Ben Lawrence had this to say, ‘Looking at streaming as a competitor, in terms of taking people’s time, absolutely it is… but actually, in terms of the concept of a streaming service, I don’t necessarily see it 100% as a competitive thing. Audiences use them in different ways. Radio’s appeal is you can stumble across things that you wouldn’t otherwise hear. Hopefully, people will hear the bands they love, and then they’ll go and look for them on streaming services.’
I think it is visibly clear that radio is doing well and deserves some accolades. The fact that it’s been here this long and still staying on within the confines of the advancement of tech is a super story.
Let’s tune in and listen!
Submitted by: Kweku Diaw
Image: Jane Carmona (@janejo3456)