Opinion

How should radio adapt in order to survive?

If radio wants to compete in the splintering media marketplace, it needs to adapt to change says Jason ‘Jabba’ Davis. 

According to my sources, i.e. the internet, Charles Darwin never wrote these words: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

Shame, because it’s an outstanding philosophy and one that is increasingly relevant to the splintering media marketplace.

TV news competes with the instantaneous nature of online reporting with live satellite crosses for everything from court verdicts to overturned trucks to patient condition updates outside hospitals.

Newspapers and magazines are turning into tablets – hello SMH and this publication. So what of our old friend – the humble radio?

I’ve said it before, programmers are increasingly turning to online platforms to deliver revenue and retain audiences easily distracted by the unlimited offerings of music and opinions on the world wide web.

Gimmicks such as in-studio webcams and online chat rooms have faded from view. While they were an extension of radio shows they were never a true innovation in terms of broadcasting.

Similarly the use of social media within a radio context is a clunky add-on to what is in some respects an extremely limited medium. With radio, what you hear is what you get.

I’d much rather browse a Twitter feed for myself than have someone read tweets out on air.

According to industry body Commercial Radio Australia: “Radio has done well to retain its revenue share in what is an increasingly competitive and volatile media market.”

Business doesn’t work like that though; it’s not adequate to merely retain a foothold in the landscape. Unless it’s expanding, then a business is failing.

With radio revenue down 0.5 per cent for the financial year just ended, what new offerings can radio networks conjure up to not just retain, but grow audience share, involvement and interest?

Jason ‘Jabba’ Davis is a media personality with more than 15 years experience in radio and TV.

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