The Forgotten Opportunities of Radio

We suspect that many companies, large and small, are under under-using the opportunities that radio provides to communicate with their customers – both current and potential. The BBC has just announced cuts to its local radio services, and this move has kicked up a real stink. BBC bosses are being hauled up in front of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee next week to explain themselves, and 90 local council leaders in England have called on Director General Tim Davie to rethink what they call the “potential impacts” on communities that value local radio as a “vital public service”. It’s a reminder that radio – at least some radio – is valued. Around 50 million people – that is 90% of the adult population – listen to radio, amounting to a billion listener-hours of live broadcasting every week. Many people now use ‘smart speakers’ such as Alexa to catch their favourite station.  There is always a demand for new on-air content, and whether it’s relating to consumer goods or financial services, there are plenty of opportunities for any company which deals with the consumer market. Most commercial stations carry only music, but there are local and national talk stations such as LBC – as well, of course, as BBC radio which has a huge amount of speech content, the daily business slot on Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme being the most valued opportunity for many of our clients.

Stations rarely want purely promotional stuff, but they can be very interested in ‘news you can use’, money advice, practical information and so on – which can raise the profile of your organisation in a positive, ‘thought-leading’ sort of way. Nowadays of course, radio operators are multi-media businesses – so if you say something of interest, clips will often be shared via Twitter or YouTube to a wider audience, or even turned into podcasts. But given the large number of stations and niches, many companies just don’t bother. So the challenge is to locate or create the right opportunities, and have the right bright and chatty media performers ready – it could be worth it.

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