Watch seven women from across the radio industry (BBC Radio, Talk Radio, Global Radio, Women’s Hour) discuss whether radio is a dying industry. Panel held at Goldsmiths University for International Women’s Day.
Another post in the Women In Radio series (thanks to Wired Radio’s International Women’s Day panel), this time where the panellists discuss whether there is still a place for radio in the media landscape. According to RAJAR, the official body in charge of measuring audience figures in the UK, 88% of the UK listen to radio every week*. However, when you talk to consumers outside of the sector itself it may begin to sound as if radio is a dying industry; local stations being networked, the BBC championing “Sounds” including music mixes and everyone seems to have a podcast!
Heart FM’s news editor, Anna Harding puts her case forward suggesting that for some vulnerable members in society radio is incredibly important.
“If you just look at the RAJAR figures, every quarter you're seeing rises in the number of people who are listening and yes, they listen to different radio stations and people's figures go up and people's figures go down. Overall there is still a huge thirst for that radio sort of connection and I think a lot of people do use radio as a connection. Don't ever underestimate the fact that somebody could be incredibly lonely and their only connection to the outside world… they might be you know struggling to get out of their house because they can't face the day but they can listen to a friendly voice on the radio who they feel that they know and that's what radio has that no other media can do. Also with the social media …radio is becoming more connected to listeners through social media. People feel like they can you know contact presenters and and get involved with with news debates and things.” - Anna Harding - Global News Editor - Heart FM
Anna goes on to say that despite national radio stations having a larger reach and wider audience share, nothing compares to the connection local radio stations can have with their community.
“As a news person, I am never busier than on a day when it snows, honest to God, we get phone calls from people asking if the number three bus is running and you're like ‘we're radio station, we're trying our best to do everything and you can't know… every single tiny piece of information! When I was working a local radio and now working in sort of regional and national radio it's very different on a different scale but working in Banbury you know people want to know if their bins are going to be emptied or if it's not going to be today when are they going to get them done so radio really has that connection with its audience and I think there is nothing that will ever replace it..” - Anna Harding - Global News Editor - Heart FM
So radio connects with audiences on a one-to-one level that no other media platform can emulate, but what does that mean for podcasts?
“Podcasts and Spotify and playlists…there is always that niche. Yes, podcasts are amazing and they are radio but live radio I don't think we'll ever go anywhere. Listeners are really savvy they know when it's live and they like it when it's live and they may never be the one to pick up the phone but they're listening and they're engaged and even in terms of podcasts that are amazing and radio is innovative I mean things like Serial or whatever you know they've come from radio so I don't think it's anywhere near dying.” - Anna Harding - Global News Editor - Heart FM
Anna says that podcasts although successful aren’t as engaging for audiences as live radio, there isn’t that instant connection, opportunity to join the conversation and engage. However pre-record audio stories are derived from radio, so podcasts aren’t entirely separate and shows the industry diversifying rather than dying.
BBC One’s Social Media Editor Emma Bradshaw discusses another way the radio industry is evolving; video. While radio listening may be confined to certain times of the day… waking up, the school run, on the drive or in the office, stations are now using social media and video to connect and tell stories when listeners are away from their radio. Emma even says radio is one of the main sources of online content at the BBC.
“From BBC One…we're trying to put out interesting stories that everyone can relate to and a lot of that actually comes from local radio a lot of the interesting stories that don't get told are on there so what we do is we take a lot of the social media stuff from all the BBC local stations and we'll put it onto BBC One's main feed to share it with everyone and a lot of what's going on now is people are taking clips from Radio turning them into videos and having like the captions along the bottom and so for example I think today I posted about Martin Lewis it was a story he did for Radio 5 Live about his mum passing away when he was young and Radio 5 Live had turned that into a video even though it was a piece of audio and we posted on our channel and it was watched by hundreds of thousands of people so even though that wouldn't count - the radio’s listener figures it's actually getting out there but in a different way.”- Emma Bradshaw - Student Radio Association and Social Media Editor at BBC One
So, do you think the radio industry is dying? Or have you seen any evidence it is evolving? Let me know in the comments 🎙️👇🏻
*information correct as of 7th February 2019.
The Women In Radio panel was held at Goldsmiths University, London on International Women’s Day. The 7 Panelists include:
Anna Harding - Global News Editor - Heart FM
Olivia Cope - Assistant Producer - BBC Woman’s Hour
Yasmeen Khan - Presenter at Talk Radio and BBC Three Counties Radio
Marta Malagon - Assistant Producer at Talk Radio
Jen Crothers - Founder of Boogaloo Radio
Emma Bradshaw - Student Radio Association and Social Media Editor at BBC One
Hayley Wiltshire - Station Manager at Wired Student Radio
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