Radio broadcasting into the new decade

Opinion: Michael Walbach, CEO, Central Media Group, writes about radio broadcasting into the new decade.

“The media landscape may be in near-constant flux, but radio remains one of the most effective ways to reach an audience.

In a time when the power of telling your own stories and news directly to audiences has arguably never been more important, radio’s reach and ability to engage not just one person but potentially whole offices of individuals at once is unparalleled. It can bring people together, and its often easy to overlook its amazing diversity of channels that speaks to very specific audiences.

When unity is in short supply, radio is often welcomed into people’s homes and personal lives like a close family friend.

It’s this welcoming nature of radio which is going to take it far ahead into the next decade. As the world is switching on to the power of voice search, control, and smart home speakers, it’s easy to see how radio fits seamlessly into this new audio mixing pot.

Even when podcast consumption is in its ascendancy and TV streaming looks set to polarise other types of mass media, radio remains the stalwart, and the one most people encounter first when they wake up in the morning.

Uniquely, it’s also integrating alongside other channels in a natural way. At CMG, we have seen a notable increase this year in clients looking to combine radio campaigns with the responsiveness of social media. The power of the airwaves is the seamless ability to work alongside other channels – reinforcing cinema and TV, adding an extra dimension and personality to digital, and bringing print to life. We’ve seen the medium boost campaigns time and again this year, as well as giving a voice to brands with targeted needs that may otherwise never have been able to attain the scale and prestige which coming through audience’s speakers can achieve.

And the channel still innovates. On-demand services, curated podcast hubs, even visual extensions of programmes – it’s easy to make wild predictions at the dawn of a new decade about how a medium might develop in the years to come, but with spin-offs, local variants of national brands, community broadcasting and of course podcasts, the ability of radio to find new ways to engage and feed listeners is tenacious.

Even in the current climate where hesitancy and uncertainty in advertising are starting to bite, mass media spend on TV and radio is remaining steadfast. It’s because their reach and efficacy are proven and their ability to speak directly to people all around the country are so ingrained, and deliver results time and time again. Combined with smart thinking campaigns that can surprise, educate and delight listeners throughout the country, the variety and reach of radio makes the airwaves accessible to a wide range of brand strategies, from the very niche to very broad.

I for one look forward to the next decade for radio. The last one has seen the expansion of digital, the development of podcasting, and brand support of the medium which transports people to new worlds, shocks, amuses, and teaches them something new about the world. It’s this flexibility which makes the airwaves of the UK such an exciting space to work in, and its resilient effectiveness cements its place in people’s homes, the year and decade to come.”

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  1. Radio Geordie says

    Prediction for the next decade:
    Global owns all the commercial radio sector and replaces Ofcom as the regulator.

    1. david worth says

      NO the bbc will copy every commercial format and say they need to increase the licence

      1. Mr Boltar says

        And at the same time cutting back the services that really make it unique such as BBC local radio. Also if you’re white, male and straight the BBC won’t really be your thing in 10 years time – on radio it’ll all be “urban” music, you can forget about hearing any sort of rock and on TV it’ll be cooking and costume dramas. For science (other than fwuffy wuffy animal wildlife stuff presented by Liz Bonnin) and engineering you can hop it to C5 or some double digit freeview channel.

  2. Lee Morris says

    I think that within the next ten years we will see the BBC having to take adverts, I think we all have to face it that things can’t go on the way they are.

    What it means for Radio 1 and 2 etc. I don’t know but I can’t see why advertisers would not be willing to sponsor The Official Chart on a Friday.

    Elsewhere, what with the new Local Muxes opening by the end of next year, I would not be surprised if we saw local BBC stations move to them from the National Mux, This would allow the BBC to then also broadcast their local stations via DAB+ which will mean Football commentaries will be on one or the other.

    I’m sure we will see a date of a closedown of MW/AM in 2025 with FM closing down by 2030 and a full Digital future for Radio.

    Of course, with more DAB/DAB+ Radios sold next year as well as Smart Speakers, the decision might be made by the end of 2022 to go fully Digital.

    One thing which has to be looked at, if DAB/DAB+ as well as Smart Speakers are going to be considered the way forward, then a way round blocking Football commentaries online must be thought out so that listeners can hear a commentary via a Smart Speaker,

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