Traditional radio was limited. Take a song parody that was done by a breakfast show team. Back in the day, the parody would be recorded and played on air.
If you missed it, that was it. You only heard about it at the water cooler, when your colleagues spoke about it.
In the digital age, radio can extend the life of its content by using the multimedia platforms at its disposal. That same parody song is played at 07:10. Within a few minutes, it’s available on our website and via our mobile platform as a free download.
It’s also available on our breakfast show blog, which is updated daily.
Radio as we know it, is a multimedia powerhouse.
The trick is to ensure that we utilise the traditional radio platform to feed these new-media channels fun, entertaining and relevant content. Radio remains at the heart of everything we do – it’s the spark that ignites all our ideas.
It is vital that our style of radio allows for the full scope of audience interaction. This means that consumers are not merely listeners, but must be given the opportunity to shape the content of the day. For example, they can send in photographs for a competition, impersonate Nelson Mandela so well that they are featured on air, or phone our news line with a potential news story – participatory radio at its best.
This evolution of the medium has resulted in a shift in the manner in which we hire presenters. We now categorise them as multimedia content providers – the old-school DJs’ time has passed.
Digital radio demands a larger arsenal of talent than a decent-sounding voice. For that reason, we are now focusing on recruiting technologically savvy staff who are hungry to master multimedia. They don’t just “talk the talk” but are able to create challenging, entertaining and relevant content across a host of platforms throughout the day.
The good news for radio managers and strategists is that we’ve only just begun. The bad news is if we ignore the need to jump onto the digital media bus, we must be prepared to face radio extinction.
The future really is very bright, given the advanced mobile platforms that will allow us to position ourselves even more strongly in the modern media marketplace. The cellphone and mobile media device will be the tools that allow us to touch tomorrow by giving us personal access to our consumers.
Alan Khan is the CEO of Jacaranda 94.2. This piece is based on his presentation at the annual Africa Media and Broadcasting Conference, held at the end of October in Johannesburg.
This article first appeared in The Media magazine (November 2008)