Everything Changes But You (Radio)

I’ve been off for a while but it’s given me some time to muse on Radio and how it’s stood the test of time. Hope you find this useful or interesting or… an appropriate way to get you away from the day to day grind!

Everything Changes But You (Radio)

As a radio specialist (OK then, geek) one of the things I do is listen to a load of different radio stations.

Earlier this week I tuned into the digital radio station (and brand extension of their magazine) Heat Radio. Heat is a national station, available across DAB radio, online, apps and on digital TV. While I was listening, they were playing a lot of old school pop. One of the songs to hit my ears and filter into my subconscious was Take That’s “Everything Changes But You”. That ‘90s hit has been going round and round in my head ever since! Embarrassing? Yes. Even more so was when I got caught singing it to myself whilst at football training!

While that damn song is still stuck in my head, it has got me thinking… radio is a bit like those lyrics,

“Everything changes but you…”  Commercial radio has been around for 40 years this year and it’s amazing to think about how much has changed since then: phones, TVs, computers and house values have undergone dramatic changes – but the essence of radio has largely stayed the same. Yes, technology has meant you can now listen in via a mobile phone rather than a gramophone, but radio’s strengths remain; listening figures are high, people continue to interact with it and radio is still a friend.

“We’re a thousand miles apart / But you know I love you…”  Love is a strong word, but the truth is, people feel strongly about their radio stations. On average, UK listeners tune in to only three different stations and some even put station stickers in the back of their cars! Recent research by the RAB (Radio: The Emotional Multiplier)  to this showed how radio can improve our mood, so perhaps it’s little wonder people like to listen.

The internet has helped radio in a number of ways and apps like RadioPlayer and TuneIn Radio, which aggregates radio stations from across the globe, can bring listeners closer to the stations they love. I work with a Kiwi and even though she’s more than a thousand miles apart from her favourite radio station, she’s constantly sitting there with her headphones on chuckling along to New Zealand radio station, George FM, I hope George knows she loves them.

“You know every single day / I’ll be thinking about you…” The average time spent listening to radio in the UK is a whopping 22 hours per week! It does in fact seem that every single day 9 in 10 of us are thinking about radio. And it’s not just those who remember Take That who are listening in, 86% of 18-34s also listen to the radio each week (figures from RAJAR Q4 12).

So perhaps Robbie, Gary and the boys were singing about radio after all? Unlike Take That, radio is a medium that has stood the test of time, despite what people may have predicted in the past. Radio is still a companion which has the power to uplift and entertain – much like your favourite 90s hits can. Now to get that damn song out of my head. I know, The Proclaimers…

Simon Pearce is the Client Insight Director at audio and radio advertising specialist RadioWorks

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Absolute Radio: Redefining Radio

Had a very interesting morning today thanks to Absolute Radio who invited me and a few RadioWorks colleagues along to their Redefining Radio conference at Portcullis House, just across the road from the countries seat of power. Speakers for the event included Ed Vaizey, the Minister for Culture, Communications & Creative Industries, Karla Geci from Facebook, the BBC’s Tim Davie, Rohan Oomen from Xbox Live and Absolute Radio’s Clive Dickens, James Wigley, Geoff Lloyd and Dave Gorman.

If you don’t have time to read this full post skip to my summary at the bottom 🙂

The general message from all the speakers was that of positivity – radio listening is still growing and currently reaches 91% of the UK population was a stat rolled out by at least three of the speakers. Ed Vaizey told us how neither video or technology killed the Radio star, despite many predictions of its demise. Whilst Clive Dickens reminded us of how non-traditional radio is growing and commented on the changes the internet is having on the medium.

It seems to me that the World Wide Web really is ‘wide’ and can offer plenty of opportunities for Radio Output (or should that be Audio?). Radio stations are already making good use of Facebook in terms of listener interaction and services like Spotify and the UK RadioPlayer are telling all our friends what we’re listening to.

One of radio’s strengths is the sense of community that comes from being a listener. It is this sense of community that Xbox Live has developed with its users and what Facebook thrives off of. The challenge for radio, as defined by Absolute, is ‘Broadcasting one to many (to their community) whilst advertising one to one’. The answer? Well, according to Clive Dickens and James Wigley from Absolute, the answer is in-stream advertising. Encouraging listeners to sign up to an Absolute Radio account provides the station with rich listener data while the listener benefits from additional services and less, more relevant messages. RadioWorks are currently testing the in-stream advertising with one of our clients so if you’re interested in further information please contact us.

For me the best speaker of the morning was the BBC’s Director of Audio and Music, Tim Davie. Tim echoed the message of positivity around radio and mentioned that ‘listeners relationship with radio is the strongest of any media’. For further growth in the radio sector Tim pointed us towards improved creativity and innovations via partnerships – with the UK Radio Player cited as a good example of how this has worked in recent times.

The conference was wrapped up by writer, broadcaster and general funny man Dave Gorman who made two great points…

  1. A conversation is an interaction between two people, it doesn’t matter if it’s through twitter or across the airways – engaging with your audience / your community and speaking with them is what works
  2. People don’t care how they are listening (if it’s via the web, mobile, or AM) what they care about is that they are listening at all – and enjoying it (hopefully)

If you want to hear a great conversation in action I can definitely recommend his radio show, Sunday’s from 10am on Absolute Radio

So, in summary what have I taken away from this morning’s conference?

  • Radio is currently in a very strong position and has continued to grow despite the rise of new technologies
  • Radio needs to constantly adapt in order to have continued success – embracing creativity and technological developments whilst providing more targeted advertising opportunities
  • Radio needs to remember its core strengths and not lose sight of where it’s come from. Retain the sense of community, engage with the audience and keep them entertained.

Thanks for your time.

Si

PS > More information and twitter feed from today’s conference can be found on Absolute Radio’s blog http://onegoldensquare.com/