When I was young (I am 57) the only link to the outside world was radio. My parents were poor and it took a very long time until they were able to buy a television. Until that time we went to friends to look at television shows that were the top of the bill (the Black & White Minstrel Show!).
Together with my friend Fred we built a radio receiver and a radio transmitter. We started to make our own radio programs and were exited when we found out that others we able to listen to us. We were also very afraid the police would find us. At that time many young and old people were exploiting their own small “illegal” radio station. Some of them have never stopped.
When the television finally appeared in our home everything changed. My parents (especially my father) wanted to look and listen to almost everything. We had to keep our mouths shut. The television dominated our family and everything we did together like playing games stopped. I hated television and I must say I never fell in love with the Medium. It is taking too much of my time without giving anything back.
The best thing that happened to me was You Tube and other tools that make it possible to look/listen to something I want to see/hear at the right time and the right place. I am finally in control of my own time again.
I am still a friend of the Radio. The first reason is that radio is not dominant. I can listen to the radio and read a book. It is easy to drive a car and listen to the Radio.
Radio is also exiting when it comes to Events. I still prefer to listen to a soccer-game instead of watching the soccer-game on television. The combination is really fun. It has to do with the Emotions of the reporter and the Details he is presenting.
Radio is all about Emotions.
Radio brings you in a certain mood. Because mood changes with the moment Radio has to specialize. It also has to specialize because people have all kind of different interests. They want to know about what is happening in their local community but they also want to know what is happening in the world. They want to know more about Science, Sports, Politics or Spirituality.
What is the Future of Radio?
At this moment radio stations are essentially bought and paid for by the record companies through what is known as Payola. They are not in the business of helping you and I enjoy music, they are in the business of making money. At the end of the day, organizations have to make money to stay in business, but if making money is all that they care about, they will need to figure out a way to do without relying on people listening to the radio. The current scheme will be gone in the near future.
Increasingly, program directors are using computer programs to choose the records their stations will play. They are creating a Digital JuBox. Once everything is put in the music library the director can give the program a series of instructions and let the program produce a playlist. Is programmed Radio, Radio with a Heart?
The Radio of the Future is all about Listeners becoming the Stars and the Core contributors and Producers of the content that a radio will air. There will be free tools, facilities and access to content to allow individuals to search, edit and compile unique documentaries, investigative reports, artistic montages and new kinds of music. The Radio of the Future will be a tool to support Creativity and Passion.
Radio as a Digital Jubox
There is no need to listen to a Digital Jubox if everybody is able to program his own Digital Jubox.
Radio as a Commercial Tool
Everybody hates Commercials.
Radio is Life Itself
The real strength of radio is its ability to be truly “live”. Broadcasting can take place from nearly any place or location to report, chronicle or create “live” news and events. Being able to listen to something that is happening at this very second in another place is something that most humans get fascinated by.
Radio is the Human Voice
The live human voice is a totally different experience than any other one. It is powerful, touching and engaging.
Think Global, Act Local
Start at the Lowest level of Interaction, The Local Community. Give them the News and Interaction they Need. Create As Many Levels You want to Abstract the Local News. Create a Political View, an Ecological View, a Scientific View on the Your Content. Mix World News with Local News but when Local News becomes World News (or National News or …) be the first to be at The Right Place at the Right Moment.
Do it Yourself Radio
Give Listeners the opportunity to create and broadcast their own radio programs. It will generate new music, alternative news and reporting talent.
Radio is a Two Way Channel
Not only give Listeners the opportunity to broadcast but give them also the opportunity to react real-time and create groups to deepen an issue. Give them the opportunity to report their findings. If this happens it will close the feedback loop.
Everything is a niche. Specific kinds of music, news or commentary are becoming clearly more important than typical generalized radio content that needs to appeal to as large as possible an audience.
People want to be surprised
Commercial radio today is less concerned with finding music that will draw listeners in than with eliminating music that might drive listeners out. The result is numbing repetition. People like repetition for a little while but when a format is completely predictable they will “zap” for something else. Some people like being surprised by strange sounds they have never heard before.
Archive, Classify and Search
Allow access to each and every show, interview or news item ever broadcast. People want to listen at their time to what they want to hear. Make it easy to look for what they want.
Create and experiment with as many channels and formats as you want
It is very easy to subdivide and multiply content into multiple channels with no major additional costs in infrastructure. If a channel or a format is not attracting enough listeners simply reconfigurate your content and start a new one.
2 thoughts on “About the Future of Radio”
On the other hand, the fact that radio is such a great background to working, driving, reading a book, etc. also implies that people do NOT want the interaction, they just want to be serviced with the kind of music they like, ie. no unexpected music (maybe less so with driving, but surely when working) and no (timecostly) programming.
As opposed to television (dubbing, subtitling) radio is bound to a specific language, so exporting radioshows is not possible. Except of course for the digital jukebox 😉 That means your audience is always limited (except for when you broadcast in English).
I have vivid memories listening to a specific (spiritual) radioshow on Sundaymornings with my mother, and indeed it seems these moments are gone forever. But the many, many channels also make it almost impossible to find these kinds of gems nowadays -> the paradox of choice paralyses me to look further than the stations I already know. Besides that, the very thing that makes ‘old radio’ static (set broadcast hours) is also like a calender appointment, you don’t want to miss it because if you do, it’ll be lost forever. Nowadays there are many tv & radio shows that I still want to listen to, but I never do because I know I can watch or listen whenever I want to. Strange dynamics…
Having said that, I do agree with having to put the heart back in radio, and with increasing interactivity with listeners/contributors. A great example of non-radio people creating beautiful content is the Byzantian Rulers podcast. I would say that iTunes podcasts are to radio what YouTube is to tv.
Now that I think about it, this language limit is also a great advantage, because YouTubefilms can usually be watched regardless of your language, while iTunes podcasts are primarily English -> creating a space for other languages to create their own podcast-jukebox.
Perhaps we have to make a difference between Radio in the Background and Radio in Foreground. When "things are happening’, an event, people love to give more information or their evalution of the data. Radio in the Background is Introvert. Radio in the Foreground is Extravert. I feel we can use "personality models" to define "radio-types".