Outplay, Outwit, Outlast
Radio always does comparatively well in difficult environments. Cost efficiency, tight geographic and demographic targeting and incredibly low wastage make it the ideal media choice for advertisers who are watching every cent. Compared to other media, costs for creative, schedules, promotional and digital activity are much more advertiser-friendly, whilst Radioís system of networked brands provides much tighter geographic and demographic targeting. (Gone are the days when companies were happy to throw money at a campaign until something stuck Ė wastage is the current bÍte noir of all advertisers).
But the main reason that Radio is such a stalwart survivor in rough times is the loyalty of station audiences. When the news is bad, people turn to Radio for two very different (but complementary) reasons; relief and coverage.
Outplay: A Bit of Light Relief
When the global news is dreary, audiences really value the entertainment and personal touch provided by good, Kiwi Radio personalities. Television presenters are chosen to have as broad an appeal as possible and the words that fill our press pages are as likely to have been penned abroad for general syndication as they are to have been written by anybody who shares similarities of background or lifestyle with their readers. On the other hand, Radio stations are audience-specific and the personalities that front the shows are quite literally hand-picked to represent and reflect back the mores, aspirations and values of each stationís audience.
Because their relationship with their audience tends to be founded upon a shared outlook, Radio presenters know exactly which buttons to push to keep their listeners entertained throughout the day. Comedy, music (new or old favourites), competitions, promotions and the general day-to-day chat and gossip of presenting teams is the perfect output for people seeking light relief or respite. That same shared outlook also means that Radio presenters are able to pick the news stories which their audiences will consider worthy of frequent updates and more in-depth discussion.
The spate of recent big news stories has highlighted the fact that Radio provides a depth and frequency of up-to-date coverage that television and press just cannot match. Interest in the economic crisis, high-profile court cases, political shenanigans and of course, the postmortem saga of the King of Pop, have all been avidly followed by audiences who prefer their news top-of-the-hour, half-hourly or even quarter hourly. And when people want more than updates - when they want detail, discussion and even to air their own views - itís Radio that has the flexibility to respond.
Presenters and DJs will pull news stories into the programming, pick out the points that resonate most strongly with their audiences, openly share their own personal views and canvas the views of listeners on-air, online and via mobile. Audiences donít bat an eyelid when presenters cross live to a news story in the middle of a show; knowing that they will be amongst the first to hear breaking stories is something that they take for granted. Can you imagine the same thing happening on TV? Perhaps Horatio Caine slowly lowering his sunnies, turning to the camera and announcing that ďNew Zealand, weíre now crossing live to a breaking (*dramatic pause*) news storyĒ? Perhaps not.
Itís a ridiculous example I know, but itís only when you try to transfer some of Radioís qualities to other media, that you start to appreciate just how unique a medium Radio actually is. There really is no big mystery behind Radioís ability to survive and even thrive during tough times; it just does what other media canít and it does with relevance, with a unique flexibility and above all, with personality.