Five Ways to Future Proof Your Radio Station

Content from BPR

Adapting to a changing landscape is a core survival skill for any business, including radio. Some businesses successfully manage this as part of their ongoing internal conversations while others seem unable to get out of the starting blocks. The ability to adapt is about future proofing your station. Here are five strategies you need to think about if you want to future proof your business.

1:  Cultivate a Culture of Curiosity

You cannot stop change. Head in the sand thinking is the recipe for failure. Head in the sand thinking blinkers you to the possibilities of the future and sets you up to be blind-sided.  It means that you don’t look for alternative solutions for inevitable change, and those changes lead to disruption, declining market share and poor investment decisions.

Technology has changed the way we all do business. Look at where AI is in 2024 and imagine just where it could be in five years from now.

A culture of curiosity is essential to exploring what the future might look like, and how your business might exist within that future. One you accept that change is inevitable you can prepare for it.  Future proofing cannot succeed where an organization continues to do things because “that’s the way we’ve always done it”.


2: Look in the Mirror – Question your Assumptions

Knowing how change will affect your business means being clear about the underlying assumptions that your business is built upon.  You can’t plan for change unless you understand why your category/format exists, what your brand is about and why consumers choose you over your competitors.

Addressing the threats to the very foundation of your business is key to future proofing. Ascertain the long-term threats to your business and scenario plan for them.


3: Monitor the Horizon

Every Christmas rolls around with hundreds of “trends” for the upcoming year. It would be impossible to be aware of every single one. However, there are big “mega trends” that bubble under for a long time and are clearly going to shake up our industry and brands if they take hold.  Being aware of them is the first step to doing something about them. Many retail shop fronts failed to plan for the impact of online shopping. The impact of streaming services on Free to Air TV is well documented.


4: Know your Brand Purpose  

Being able to future proof your station means accepting that it might have to evolve into something completely different. Being willing to cannibalise or let go of parts of your business to take it in a new direction is essential for growth.  The starting point of this is understanding what your station stands for in the minds of the audience.

What are the purpose and values of your brand that people engage with (or could engage with!) and where else do those values matter? Being able to expand beyond your category in different ways obviously sets you up better for a future where your product category might not be very appealing to operate in.


5: Respect your Listeners

Listeners have needs and ultimately they are loyal to solutions to their needs, rather than brands. If something better comes along, then their brand loyalty likely counts for very little. So, how focused are you on respecting, understanding and serving your listeners’ changing expectations?  The radio audience won’t adapt to your needs; your format needs to adapt to theirs. Remember Zapoleon’s Music Cycles?

Constantly research what listeners want from a radio station and how well you and your competitors are delivering on their needs. Listeners tastes change over time…..make sure you aren’t left behind.

 Finally……Its not what you think your radio station stands for ….its what the listeners think

By David Kidd, BPR

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