Radio was the first social media: Warner at Radcomms

At today’s Radcomms’ conference, Joan Warner urged the government to quickly roll out digital radio to Australia’s regional areas and countered the claims that streaming will kill radio.
Warner did not have her head in the sand however, acknowledging that “radio’s future is multi platform… on any new device that comes to the market.”
“Rather than fear that new forms of communication may take time away from radio, radio has embraced new technology and has worked brilliantly with the new technology that is supposed to kill it off,” she said.
The core business model for radio, however, in the medium term future, “remains primarily free to air, one-to-many broadcast.”
At the heart of radio’s success is the ability to change. 98% of Australians listen to radio every week. Figures are high and continue steadily. “Those who say young people are not listening to radio are wrong,” said Warner, quoting survey figures.
“It is a competitive climate and radio people have to be out there promoting radio all the time, but it is still strong…
“The heart of radio is its core free to air content… but the free to air content has to be given extended life through strategic use of all platforms.”
People outside the radio industry think streaming can replace free to air broadcast radio, but that’s not true according to Warner.
“Radio over the internet requires too much bandwidth and if everyone tries to access radio streams at the same time, then the networks crash. At the moment the majority of listening is still via broadcast… But we know listeners don’t care how they get their content, they just want to access their favourite shows wherever and whenever they want to, so radio is using new platforms as well as the traditional platforms.”
The experience of digital radio shows that when people get digital radio they increase their listening time. Ten vehicle manufacturers in Australia now have digital radios in cars and they are waiting for a national roll-out of digital radio before taking the next steps. She urged the government to quickly give “policy certainty in the roll out of digital radio to regional areas.”
CRA is currently working with mobile phone manufacturers to provide radio content through DAB+ chips in mobile phones.
In a later conference session, Free TV’s Julie Flynn reminded delegates that the average Australian family has between 15-20 connected devices and echoed the radio industry’s view that free to air broadcast is still a leading part of Australia’s broadcast landscape.