Dear Radio: Disaster comms, industry layoffs & chasing chickens
by Paulo Dias (@therealptp) Here’s a scan of the news, stories and innovation that caught my eye from radio stations and groups around the world recently.
During emergencies, disaster and stage-six loadshedding, we assume that, in our ultra-connected world, we’d be able to get news and information plus communicate over the internet like we always do. What we’ve seen, time and again, is that mobile networks become unstable and devices just run out of battery.
Radio always impresses me with its resilience at times like these and the latest case in Australia saw the national broadcaster, ABC Radio (Australian Broadcasting Corporation Radio) put out over 100 special emergency broadcasts alone in the first week of the Australian bushfires.
Local radio dropped its summer programming to run the emergency broadcasts, which gave people an outlet to distribute and receive information when other channels became unreliable.
The seedier and more-cutthroat side of radio reared its head US state-side with the behemoth audio corporation, iHeartMedia, announcing in the name of evolution that it had laid off dozens of radio staff, including well-known on-air personalities. iHeartMedia is an absolute monster in the US, with over 850 live stations and many other podcast, on-demand and streaming platforms. It claims that its network reaches nine out of 10 Americans every month, so this is no small story.
The move is said to be an effort to maximise the company’s investment in technology and artificial intelligence (AI), with most people assuming that roles such as scheduling and music compiling will be taken over by AI.
As we see technological advances disrupt so many other industries and make jobs redundant, we mustn’t fool ourselves into thinking the same can’t happen in our local radio stations and groups.
Last but not least, it brings me great pleasure to end off with a promotion that I’ve been wanting to share since I found it late last year:
Radio promotions are very simple. Most are designed to make audience members listen longer and, while they do so, cash and prizes are won for not doing all that much. Y 107.9 FM Ghana didn’t get the memo… To mark its 11th anniversary, YFM Ghana launched the Chicken Chase. Eleven chickens released into a yard — catch one and it’s yours.
The promos write themselves.
Plus, it doesn’t look as if any chickens were harmed in the making of that contest.
Paulo Dias (@therealptp) is the head of creative integration at Ultimate Media. He works closely with the programming teams at leading radio stations to help implement commercial messaging into their existing formats. He contributes the regular column, “Dear Radio”, looking at the changing radio landscape in South Africa, to MarkLives.com