Streaming has presented radio with its most stiff competition in recent years. However, there are signs that radio still has an important part to play in music listening and discovery; according to Forbes, FM radio remains a top three source of music discovery for young people. To remain relevant and continue the rich tradition of radio, operators need to innovate. A few key trends indicate that this is happening, and that radio is continuing to carve its own niche in the modern world.
Amateur radio enthusiasts
A battle you might not have heard of is the one concerning amateur radio operators. Ham radio enthusiasts have shown a recent surge in popularity, driven by the increasing diversity of many short wave radio models, which are appropriate for ham radio usage. The popularity of the practice has received national attention through their attempts to legislate in favour of radio openness; that is, for the authorities to enforce the use of encrypted signals being sent over ham radio frequencies. The key argument proposed by those in favor noted the spirit and rules of amateur radio. While a quiet battle, it’s arguable that this debate gets right to the core of the ethos and community spirit of radio and could have impacts for years to come.
Representing new music
Streaming services have taken a huge role in the promotion and success of established artists. Data visualization company Data Face noted this in one of their analyses. In short, radio took 20 weeks longer than online streaming to start recognizing and playing a hit by a noted international artists. What this means is that there is space for smaller artists to grow and flourish on traditional radio. Rather than having the airwaves consistently used for the promotion of established artists and hits, it gives new music an opportunity to make their own waves.
Radio becoming trendy
Possibly the best news for radio of all forms is the impetus of big business. In October 2018, Netflix announced its intention to launch a 24-hour comedy radio service that would have new content in snippets across the day, as well as regular shows and services. Crucially, it would operate as a normal radio service, without all the benefits that selective streaming has to offer – at least until a later date. While big business can sometimes be detrimental for radio by stopping the efforts of smaller broadcasters from getting ahead, the appetite of those businesses can sometimes spell better times for radio stations and ultimately the level of listeners.
Streaming has offered a staunch challenge to the popularity of radio, but radio definitely isn’t dead. Combining loyal listeners with the desire and appetite of amateur enthusiasts has led to a resurgence in the ideals of radio and what it can offer over the convenience culture streaming offers. With the impetus provided by big business, there is a hope that radio can continue its revival and remain an important established form of media.
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