The radio industry has been challenged by new media innovation, particularly social media applications in the past couple of years, propelling radio stakeholders into adaptive mode. The big question now, is whether radio is still as relevant in the 21st century and more importantly, are radio stations embracing this multimedia approach?
Jacaranda 94.2 CEO Alan Khan is adamant that his station certainly is: “The ‘media consumers', (note: not listeners), of the future are both techno-savvy, intelligent, opinionated and an integral part of our existence. With broadband rates decreasing, great Internet deals and a digital media revolution in our midst, consumers will demand faster access to information and an immediate connection to the world.”
“We're therefore choosing to be on the train, and not merely stand on the digital platform; we're actively engaging our listeners through a host of digital channels.”
Khan continues that the consumers of today, and of the future, are not only the ‘content providers', they are the ‘content drivers'. The market relevant content will drive consumer habits on-air, online and on mobile.
“That's why we've introduced blogs, which represent opportunities for consumers to post their views on our websites and Podcasts. We've also realised that radio is no longer just about the music. It's also about having stronger personalities on-air. We cannot afford to have ‘wallpaper' or ‘background noise' traditional presenters. Jacaranda 94.2 has invested in intelligent multimedia content providers who can effectively interact with our media consumer.”
If Khan's insights are anything to go by, it is clear that radio is indeed in the throes of a multimedia revolution. That revolution is well and good, but can a country with broad and complex socio-economic dynamics guarantee that all consumers cotton on to this media frenzy? Independent media consultant Lev David's response is an emphatic “yes!”
“The engagement of listeners is an unavoidable and crucial quantum shift in the kind of media that works. If you're looking for invention, don't look to the big companies, look to the people. Don't speak down. Step down. Stand among. Invite the listeners in. Become a catalyst for conversations and provide the means for people to create and share,” stresses David.
Khan echoes these sentiments with the station's newly adopted multimedia approach and affirms radio's standpoint for the future, “Recent listening trends have revealed a decline in Time Spent Listening (TSL) and we're hoping to curb this ‘consumer fatigue'. By making media consumers the stars of the show, we're really tapping into the listener, fine-tuning our strategy and working to ensure the prosperity, not the extinction of radio.”