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For the Love Of Radio

I love listening to the radio. The battle for ‘my station’ in the car has existed since my teenage years. In the morning it’s my first go to, it brings me to and from work and I choose to listen to it at night over watching anything on Netflix. I know I’m probably the extreme,  it must be the 80’s child instilled in me. Really I think it’s the instantaneity that I like, no buffering, no Wi-Fi, the off the cuff format with presenters and it saves me having to put a playlist together!  

My radio obsession may not be all that abnormal as this week’s Radio Conference in the Mansion House highlighted that 91% are listening regularly and described as ‘still fighting fit’ from host CEO of Today FM and TXFM Peter McPartlin. 

Presenters Fiona Stack (Radio Kerry), Neil Prendeville (Red FM), Dermot Whealan (Today FM) and Ger Gilroy (Newstalk) each highlighted different elements on what makes radio great.

So why is radio great?

It can be localised with local conversation and radio brings out the local characters. It’s very much a subjective medium, however it offers the opportunity to provide a multiplicity of voices and opinions. Dermot Whelan in his ever comic fashion emphasised how he loves the creativity and immediacy of radio; how one comment can suddenly run in to something else and become a feature on a show. An overriding factor on the success of radio is that it’s a two way street and listeners are key to the success of the show…so the presenters can’t take all the credit!

For some stations music is a significant element of their programming, with the introduction of streaming platforms the floor was open to discussion on the effect radio has on music. Representatives from Spin, Today FM, Universal Music and Aiken Promotions formed a panel which touched on the impact of Spotify, YouTube and other streaming services on radio. The need still exists for radio to promote new artists. YouTube is a factor in discovering artists but to offer further exposure radio is necessary. Stations see that streaming services has only been a good thing for radio as it has forced stations to challenge themselves to develop new opportunities to engage listeners.

Ipsos MRBI presented their most recent survey on ‘The Irish Audio Landscape’ which outlined the strength of radio in the market with the primary factor being that people spend more time listening to radio than any other audio in a typical day. ‘Radio continues to be relevant…its particular strength in delivering topical news, information and music provides a social currency for many’.

Overall the conference highlighted that radio as a very much traditional medium has become very fluid and embraced change within the industry. It hasn’t taken a back seat in adapting its offering to its listeners and clients. It has taken the bull by the horns in embracing digital particularly across social activity. The radio star certainly isn’t dead… and I don’t think it will be any time soon.