Radio as I have seen it (part 1) – Akin ADESANYA (Broadcaster and Media Consultant)

Old media don’t die! They just rebound in new avatars.
With all the rampaging effects that the Television came with and the fear of it relegating radio down market, it`s force and reputation seem VERY intact.

The much rampaging Television seems to be the most affected in this era, losing much of its ‘carriage’ to the new age. The “New Media” phase where just about anything audiovisual is hastily leaning towards. The future is here! Radio is yet unbroken, Television is fighting a fierce battle for its life.

All thanks to technology, Radio has fought its own battle and its making a gigantic comeback. In fact, in its new avatar, Radio is all set to become the HIPPEST, COOLEST and most AUTHENTIC INFO MEDIUM in this new age.
Radio is a new entity altogether.
It’s reborn like a new baby; in all its newness, it must live to its expectations. In its quest to be relevant and patronized, the following should be its major areas of concern:

a. Content providers
b. Investors
c. The People
d. Listeners
e. Market

The Content providers come first. That’s the Radio station itself. Without quality and adaptable content, there might be no need to invest a kobo in the first place. In the above sequence, the Market, which brings home the revenue comes last! It is the confidence that the prospects establishes in all four before it that gives it a taken into their spendings.
The customers don’t come first in Radio.

With current realities, Radio has to deal with the new market dynamics. Media owners dealing with new markets will virtually have to draw up their strategies as they go along, create programming that is new, innovative and grab away eyeballs from TV sets and make them tune into their radio sets. It’s a whole new challenge and competition is never far away.
Advertising revenues will also not be easy to come by, as advertisers will expect media players to put their money where their speakers are before they commit large sums of money towards radio advertising, which without, Radio dies a natural death. The major challenge I see for Radio in actualizing its mission in the current era is how to attract more of these advertising pool to itself.

The character of the Radio functioning as or being most times considered as a mere reminder medium is sure a major minus in this drive. This had in time affected the massive involvement of listeners VisaVis television. But, Radio is instant! That`s an advantage Radio Content Developers have to explore.
The prints mostly set the agendas for discussions on both Radio and Television, but all that is changing! The ‘New Media’ is largely contesting that position with the prints. Everyone; young, old, lettered, unlettered are fast keying into it.
This provides an opportunity for Radio to finally wield the sledge hammer on a segment of the strength the Television has over it. It cannot do it all by itself, it has to employ and maximize the use of the rave of the moment, ‘New Media’.
In spite of the challenges, mainly financial, that Radio might be faced with due to the availability of easier, cheaper and more exact mediums of driving home messages, the emergence of more private Radio stations indicates the viability of the medium ‘IF’ well anchored.

The increase in the volume of advertising on Radio further drives home the importance of the medium. The estimated population of Nigeria is currently put at 182,000,000 (National Population Commission), of this, about 50% is below 30 years. Of this number, about 70% of them actively use mobile gadgets embedded with all the latest Apps. This opens a wide range of opportunity for Radio to latch and explore for its profitability and sustainability.

What would make a Radio brand not make money? That indeed is a BIG question. The solutions are written within. Amongst the plenty factors that might be slowing down the profitability of a Radio brand are

a. Its content drive
b. Its application pattern
c. Its PR deficiencies
d. Its marketing failures
e. Its motivation model
f. Its not keying into the new rave

There could be more, these are just a few that could be mentioned here.
Radio is personalized. Its drive MUST remain towards the ONE PERSON engagement pattern. That`s one beautiful tip for content creators to employ. Create ideas that engage one person at a time and you become an instant friend. Your friendship pact soon grows to become a fan base and fan bases are usually cult followers. Their loyalty remains intact, regardless of the situation. Another failure I would also point to is the failure of the marketing strategies of most stations. Most stations whose profit is going down south or not improving is mainly the problem of its marketing style.

Some stations merely operate a sales unit rather than a marketing department. They wait people to come kneel at their door begging the station to take their money. Nobody brings money to anyone anymore. You have to go take it! Marketing is huge! Marketing is about development something extraordinary from nothing! Marketing is creativity in total. It is once said and I very much believe that the best marketing strategies are formulated by Content providers.
They tailor their contents towards what the market needs. They create and execute to fit into brands philosophies, making it an easy fit for brands to buy into.

Haven said that, the potential of Radio profitability is better in bigger towns. In the Northern part of Nigeria, Radio is the dominant medium of all sorts (Information, Entertainment, Education etc), but, as dominant as it is, how much advertising benefit can it generate for its owners? A Radio station in big towns like Lagos, Abuja, Port-Harcourt, Ibadan, Benin, Calabar etc have a lot more potential to generate a lot more profit with fewer listeners than their Northern Nigeria peers who have a chunk of listeners clutching their Radio sets on a average of 20 hours a day.

The big cities Radio only need work out a most appropriate operating philosophy to remain relevant and take a part of the advertising largesse. In the Radio market, forming a philosophy might be a task. Radio stations can formulate their philosophy to bridge a gap. But, creating a running philosophy extends far beyond just filling a gap.
You need to consider if there is a market for the gap your station philosophy wants to fill, you must also put to note the size of the market of that gap and think how profitable it will be should you theme your station to that gap.
I`ve seen some Radio stations fail this simple but technical test. I`ve seen Radio stations change name, style, personnel severally just because the foundation philosophy were wrong. For instance, an investor putting millions of Naira into a Traffic themed Radio station in Abeokuta or Ibadan is heading towards the rock in no time.
There`s sure a gap to fill in informing people of the traffic situation, but for the market, its a waste, huge one. How much vehicular traffic do these two cities put together generate?

My parting shot for this part,
Read it tomorrow on the front page, watch it tonight in the news, but, hear it now on the Radio.
Boy, Radio is INSTANT!

Thanks for reading.
Blessings!

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Author: Tony Doe

Voice-Overs, Radio Imaging & Production, Podcasts, Internet Radio.