Keri Jones: radio listening around the world

Radio owner and broadcaster Keri Jones is travelling around the world to record radio features, and writes for RadioToday about his recent findings.

“It’s fascinating to learn how radio is used to communicate messages elsewhere in the world. In developed countries, Facebook groups are adopting/nicking the services once provided by small market broadcasters. When I left Radio Pembrokeshire in 2006, we regularly had 50 calls for our Sunday on-air ‘buying and selling.’ I know it’s now old hat but it did draw an audience. I suspect that’s no longer on air because a social media forum will have eclipsed it.

I guess the same has happened with announcing speed camera locations – sorry – ‘road safety cameras.’ But there are still many examples of how radio stations provide a valuable service which you’d never normally find in the UK. Irish radio stations broadcast local obituaries. And they charge for it. During a short visit to the Falklands I looked at the radio in stunned disbelief when FIRS announced the inter-island helicopter times complete with the names of the passengers travelling. There’s no way you can have a clandestine affair if you live in Stanley! No island-hopping bed-hopping.

I once learned about one of the most sobering uses of our medium when I spoke to a presenter at Kabul’s number 1 radio station. Masood Sanjer told me that Arman FM gained its highest audience in the mornings when they announced who had been killed overnight. At the time, the level of unrest and fractured infrastructure in the country meant that relatives were usually informed of the death of loved ones on air, at 8.15am each morning. What a benchmark feature! It’s just horrible. And yet you can see why it is so important.

Today, I’m waking up in the humid warmth of the British Virgin Islands’ capital Road Town. I’m here recording pieces for my new travel show. I’ve put on the national broadcaster, ZBVI and their electricity board are paying for DJ live reads requesting people to pay their outstanding bills or face disconnection. You can call the company to pay or face a reconnection charge. The presenter then listed the areas in which the disconnection crew will be working today. I bet that switches listeners from passive to active listening.

If we did that on the radio in Britain, we’d have debt counseling agencies, quite rightly, “up in arms”. But I think that you can argue that ZBVI has sold a promotion for which radio will get results. And I think radio can own this one. Let’s face it, nobody is going to join an electricity disconnection Facebook group. Who is going to ‘Like’ that?

At the end of May, Keri Jones is starting a weekly, syndicated radio travel programme. The Great Destinations Radio Show will be available free to stations, fully produced in 1 and 2 hour formats. There’ll be a Hot AC or AC/Gold version or a dry, links-only format, ready to schedule around your own music and format.
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