IT’S ALIVE! Radio, that is. Alive, and kicking itself out of the coffin it’s been prematurely nailed into in too many, ‘Is radio dying?’ think pieces over the last 10 years. According to the latest figures, 90% of the population listened to radio across the quarter. Nine out of 10 of us tuned in to our favourite station and listened in.
That’s an astonishing figure, especially for commercial radio, which, in 2009, the Guardian’s then-head of audio Matt Wells, said was “on its last legs”, with other observers saying that it was not commercially viable for advertisers. “We are witnessing the slow death of commercial radio in this country due to a number of factors, [including] the complete failure to grasp the digital nettle,” said Wells.
I guess he was wrong. They’ve grasped the nettle so hard their hands are bleeding data.
Global’s Capital brand added nearly 1 million listeners since the second quarter of 2015, and now reaches 8.5m, while Bauer Radio posted a record reach of 17.8m listeners across Q2. If these numbers aren’t appealing for an advertiser then I really don’t know what is. Commercial radio is here to stay.
Furthermore, when looking at our public broadcasters’ figures, two stations that were earmarked for closure a few years ago, 6 Music and BBC Asian Network, posted record figures, with two of the former station’s presenters now reaching over 1 million people a week.
So, what am I getting at? Radio is resilient. And it’s a wonderful means of mass communication. Whether it’s paid for by advertising or the license fee, it’s evident that most of the UK feels the same way.
While the streaming wars rage, the original curators are still at it, guiding us on journeys of musical discovery, or keeping us company on our commute to and from work. I for one hope the rise continues.