Radio renaissance

Once upon a time the future was clear. As the pop song says: ‘video killed the radio star.’ Reading the rune stones meant seeing a future clearly dominated by TV. Countless channels and technological advances meant that TV would trump radio which seemed so last century.

The reality is somewhat different. Local BBC radio is thriving and the latest audience figures suggest that radio is far from being on it’s last legs. Many of the flagship BBC programmes such as the Today Programme are seeing their audiences rising and BBC Radio 2 presenters have a very high profile.

There is something intimate about listening to the radio. The power of words, carefully crafted stories and the richness of language can capture our imagination. Notions of a ‘fireside chat’ remain as alluring as ever. Whether it’s the president of the USA talking or a phone in on Talk Sport the radio breeds a special relationship between the listener and the broadcaster.

And the advent of smartphones and web TV had meant that we can listen to programmes when ever and where ever we want. We have the choice as never before. No need to get up with the lark to listen to Farming Today as I player means you’re in control.

What does this mean for people working in media relations? It means that broadcast journalists, researchers and producers matter. You need to think about how you get a story covered: whether it’s in the news bulletins or as a live interview. This means thinking about who your great storytellers are and supporting their development. Two to three minutes can seem like a lifetime when on air but it’s only a few hundred words so clarity and preciseness are the key watchwords.

Many programmes have loyal followings and can command large audiences that any national newspaper could dream of. Whether it’s a news story or a 30 minutes on orchards you need to understand the programme your pitching to: get those headphones on and listen.


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