The Power of Radio in the Digital Age
Despite the evolution of high-speed Internet and television’s prevalence in today’s culture, radio is still a very important and relevant medium. The digital race hasn’t “killed the radio star,” so to speak, but has endured the test of time, the social media race and radio can still help drive change around the world.
More than 95% of the world’s population uses radio. That high figure probably says it all, but to put it in even more perspective, this is compared to roughly one third of the global population having access to Internet at all (let alone reliable or high-speed connections). Radio is still more popular than online streaming. Adults listen to eight times more AM/FM radio than satellite radio, and 17 times more than Internet audio streaming. It will be interesting to see how these numbers change as innovation in the space increases.
As a news medium the radio is on the rise, the average monthly adult readership for daily newspapers decreased by 3.1% between 2006 and 2010, radio audiences, on the other hand, have risen 4% since 2008. As of 2010, at least 75% of households in developing countries have access to a radio, while only 20.5% of households in developing nations have access to the Internet. As a result, radio can reach the most isolated communities (which includes many Native American populations in the U.S.), in addition to the poorest, where Internet cannot.
Radio is considered the most reliable medium for distributing news. Certain geographical features affect the way countries receive information, mountains get in the way of TV signals, but not radio communications. In the Philippines Radio reaches 85% of the entire country, while TV reaches just under 60%.
Radio was the first electronic medium of mass entertainment and radio is a more psychological medium. Its relationship with its audience is based on an emotional and imaginative bond. Radio is very powerful because it reaches a huge audience quickly and because it allows the people in that huge audience to interact with one another more easily than television viewers or newspaper readers.
Radio is immediate. It is the modern equivalent of the village story-teller. Through words, sounds and the human voice, radio talks to an audience directly. How? By inviting listeners to explore new experiences, new places, new ideas. It gives listeners the stories they need to know in order to better understand the world.