“Radio is dead.” This is a sentence that I have heard numerous times. In fact radio isn’t dying. Radio content is gaining more demand than ever before; it is the way that we listen to radio that is changing so dramatically.
Maybe I am oblivious to the fact that radio is dying. It is, after all, my ambition to work in radio; maybe I can’t admit the truth.
At the age of thirteen I started volunteering at my local radio station and I have carried on my role ever since. When the radio station received its FM frequency license it seemed that all of the hard work had finally paid off but we were soon to be greeted with the news that the FM switch off date was nearing. Instead, we should have already been thinking about digital radio; at a cost that we could never have afforded or even imagined. There would have simply been no way that a local radio station of our size, which give a voice to the local community, could afford tens of thousands of pounds to switch to digital (we had already paid thousands to get onto FM).
The government recognises this though, along with broadcast regulator Ofcom, and has decided to trial ‘small-scale DAB’ (Digital Audio Broadcasting) for local radio stations to transform the way that they broadcast. The trials allow local radio stations to team up with other stations in the area using a multiplex to transmit their broadcasts and split the costs between them. The trials, however, have been a small help for those who simply do not have the money to invest in the first place.
Aside from digital radio the fastest growing trend is apps and online podcasts. How many of you own a physical radio set at home? I expect only a few. Now, how many of you own a mobile phone in which you can listen to and stream radio whenever and wherever you want? I expect the majority.
Think about how easy it is to open the BBC radio app and listen to Radio 4 on demand, or pull up the Global Player app and listen to *cough* Nigel Farage on LBC. It is something that we, or more specifically I, probably take for granted. But why do I believe online content has grown so fast? Well, when else are we going to fit listening to radio shows into our so-called ‘busy’ schedules? The way that we can produce radio has changed in the last thirty years too, the technology is remarkable and the content that we can deliver so quickly is engaging, exciting and really fresh.
Personally I don’t think “radio is dying” and I am quite fed up with being told that I shouldn’t be aiming to work in that field. Rather than screwing your nose up when I tell you that I want to work in radio, think about how often you listen to programmes or podcasts on your phone and how you get your news whilst you’re driving home from work or university.
So maybe it is about time that we understood that it is the physical radio set that is dying. In fact, the radio and podcast content that is being produced, as well as the demand for it, is exploding.