Discussing the ever evolving medium of radio at this week’s Radio Asia conference in Bangladesh, the ABC’s Andrea Ho reminded delegates that radio was the first social medium and, if used well, is able to challenge the new social media of today.
“Humans are hard wired to talk. We talk to share. Sharing is at the heart of society.
“Radio with talkback was the first social medium,” she said.
Andrea Ho reminded participants that radio was first in its use of talkback, something to be remembered as radio takes on the new social media platforms.
“With conversations on radio we can have a contest of ideas, where we surprise each other and empathise. Radio does that better than any other social media.
“It puts us into a personal space. People make up pictures in their heads that personalise radio for the listeners. Our minds work to put personal pictures into your head when you listen to the radio.
“The internet has arrived, but much of it is bad, fake, a flood of excrement… Radio still has the trust, but must be sure to keep it.”
The ABC in Australia still has the highest trust of any media, “but we have to keep earning that trust every day because listeners make a choice of what to listen to every day” said Ho.
Things that keep ABC Radio relevant include its coverage of emergencies, its independent editorial judgement, election broadcasts and its fundamental contribution to civics.
“Another key element is being local and live, connecting to our communities. Being local and personal is the pivot point for radio’s evolution. We need to take our radio content to where our audiences are…
“We are also working on delivering our services on phones, DAB+, television and smart speakers, but we are not chasing technology for its own sake, we are chasing it because of our audience.
“Radio is also the ultimate multitasker, your perfect companion while you are doing other things.”
Other speakers in the session added to the discussion with a range of additional points from around the region.
“Radio is the narrator of history and culture,” said IRIB’s Head of Radio Dr Shahabadi.
Prof Shameem Reza from Dhaka University outlined the history of radio in Bangladesh.
“It played a colonial role when we were a British colony. Later it helped develop education, agriculture and empowerment of different sections of society. Radio played a role in news, and was vital during the war in our recent history of independence.
“In post independent Bangladesh it now plays a new role. It is important for elections, for educating the population about what is happening. It is part of our lived culture.
“After the soviet union collapsed there was more competition, we had privatisation, the expansion of television, introduction of private media and satellite television… Now the challenges are from the internet.”
Buzlar Rahman (pictured above), the CEO of the Bangladesh community radio association BNNRC told delegates: “Community radio has come under attack from digital competition. To compete we must incorporate social and digital components in our programming.”
He urged the Bangladesh government to set up a trust fund for community radios to develop new ways to strengthen the sector against the disruptors of digital media.
See more reports from Radio Asia in our other other publication AsiaRadioToday.