BBC Local Radio Need A Fresh Idea To Survive

BBC Local Radio Need A Fresh Idea To Survive

When it comes to celebrating anniversaries, radio finds it hard before the days of downloadable online content, radio by its very nature was transient and ephemeral. We tend to remember the act of listening to the radio rather than the programmes themselves. Yet radio anniversaries have been falling thick and fast in 2017, with BBC radios 1, 2, 3 and 4 all celebrating their 50th birthdays and the today programme marking its 60th.

Now it’s the turn of BBC local radio, which also launched in 1967, almost as a byproduct of the marine offences act, when unlicensed or pirate radio was outlawed, paving the way for the BBC to reorganise the networks.

Local radio can be forgiven for playing down its 50th year on several counts. Strictly speaking, the anniversary applies to the service itself and the three stations which launched in 1967 (Leicester, Sheffield and Merseyside), rather than the remaining 37 stations across England, which emerged subsequently.

But the anniversary is also a reminder of local radio’s origins, and why it may be facing an existential crisis. As broadcaster and radio consultant David Lloyd highlighted in his blog, regulator OFCOM has drafted a new operating licence for BBC radio services, which leaves the door open to radical changes which would strike at the very heart of local radio’s raison d’etre.

Lloyd speculates that if the draft licence is adopted, the BBC could abandon the requirement to serve an audience that is aged over 50. News coverage could be diluted and the commitment to “champion the local area” might vanish.

These proposals would unmask the paradox that has never fully been resolved, which is how to define what BBC local radio really is. Critics have been quick to dismiss it as community-lite, a service that only shines in times of crisis (often weather related), and easily lampooned for trite items and dull phone-ins and perhaps in jest presenters in the Alan Partridge mould.

Connecting Communities

Broadcaster and BBC executive, Frank Gillard who is rightly regarded as the founding father of local radio wanted a network of stations that would connect communities, and, as he put it : “Present on the air, and in many different forms and through a multitude of local voices, the running serial story of local life in all its forms”.

Gillard’s vision was to realise the public’s growing dissatisfaction with metropolitan centred broadcasting that had dominated BBC radio in the post-war years. He promoted a resurgent interest in local affairs, ranging from municipal politics to community interaction. Despite launching tentatively as an eight-station experiment in 1967-68, BBC local radio broke new ground in developing a rich tapestry of output aimed at local communities. It combined specialist interest programmes with civic coverage and news from the doorstep.

As is clear from the BBC written archive, the success of the early stations was partly due to this pioneering spirit and the autonomy that they enjoyed, led by all powerful station managers.

In her memoir, “Radio : A True Love Story”, journalist and presenter Libby Purves lovingly recalled the extraordinary opportunity for trying out new ideas, mindful that everything was done on a shoestring. Purves also hits on an overlooked contribution to the ecology of radio, the development of the broadcaster as a multi skilled professional “with my knobs and chinographs and razor blades”. Radio is a craft and the local training ground has helped many aspiring producers and presenters to learn their trade.

I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that I owe my career in radio and then academia to the opportunities given to me while working in local radio. In my case it began by co-presenting and producing a long running community programme aimed at the LGBT audience in London.

Modern Times, New Demands

The radio landscape has radically altered in the past couple of decades. Many of local radio’s problems stem from the difficultly in matching the early success of the pioneering stations.

The old guard in broadcasting house never really understood it. BBC managers reacted by reining in the stations, so they lost much of their individuality. Local radio also faced endless cash shortages. Less money meant larger stations and, by 1980, after a series of working parties organised by the home office to share out frequencies between the BBC and the independent broadcasting authority (for commercial local radio), BBC local radio became less small scale and more countywide.

This inevitably diluted the local connection. Now, local has become almost quasi-regional in places radios Cumbria and Cornwall, for instance, both serve dispersed and diverse populations. Then there’s the perennially vexed question of London, where local radio has always had mixed fortunes.

Ironically, it’s the expanding network of small scale community stations that is coming closer to matching Gillard’s original dream. But the key difference between community radio and local radio is the principle of public service broadcasting, to serve areas and populations that would otherwise be ignored. Yet it still comes at a price.

The most recent BBC annual report put the cost of local radio at £112.9m a year (2016-17), which is double the funding of radio 2 or 5 live. Some 14.6% of the available listeners in England tune in each week, which is a bit less than the UK-wide radio a audience. That works out at 4p per hour per listener which is expensive compared to the networks, but the appreciation index is the joint highest (with radio 3) at 82.7.

However, the audience is falling with 8.25m weekly reach in the most recent quarter, which is down from 8.43m in the previous year.

Undoubtedly local radio will need to adapt and work more creatively in the future (such as the “local democracy” scheme with newspaper groups). It should diversify more into “non-live” output (podcasts, multi-platform, creative use of content using visuals, such as video and graphics). There’s still a loyal, licence fee-paying audience that regard local radio as their friendly radio and that surely makes a strong case for the BBC to continue this service for the coming 50 years.

The Issues That Decide The Future of Radio

The Issues That Decide The Future of Radio

As early as 1934, specialists were predicting the demise of radio because of the ephemeral character unlike publish, cinematic movie, or play audio, after broadcast to the ether, it was gone forever. Over eight decades after, radio remains reaching 89 percent of the elderly population of the UK (that is 44.8m folks).

The intricate relationship between conventional radio and newer types like podcast is manifest in how that people consume media in the electronic world. The apparently endless appetite for podcasts has revived predictions of the conclusion of broadcast radio several times over because it started to take hold approximately 15 decades back. Podcasting hasn’t killed the radio star, but the connection remains filled and not necessarily well known.

These issues have emerged over and over during high-profile events, such as the Nations and Regions in Media (NARM) Seminar, the following radio seminar, and really the radio academy’s ARIA (Sound and Radio Industry) awards, since the defining regions of 21st century radio and podcasting.

Youth Radio

Among the biggest problems that will influence the potential for radio in the united kingdom is its connection with young men and women. Nonetheless, it’s wireless connection with adolescent listeners who will decide its own longevity.

Supplying more information for younger listeners is obviously something that the BBC is taking into consideration. Radio a xtra gifts : Quarter life crisis, a brief drama written and played by climbing 20 something BAME celebrity Yolanda Mercy, that was broadcast in April 2018, talked honestly and refreshingly to young folks styled within a judicious mixture of music and humor.

Available info on podcast-makers indicates, until lately, they’ve tended to become tech savvy, man and usually aged 18-24. A reason, perhaps, that young people do not participate more with conventional broadcast radio is since they do not hear anybody on radio that seems just like they do that has to change.

Course And Area On Radio

In the 2018 NARM seminar, Mancunian student Molly Keyworth that proceeded to win an award for best radio documentary wondered why nobody on radio seemed like her. As linguistics specialist Rob Drummond contended on this website, there’s not any linguistic reason for an accent to be connected with specific characteristics we delegate those shared meanings in a civilization.

Meanwhile, over time, a specific sort of broadcasting voice has come to be connected with specialist radio broadcasting over the united kingdom. Certainly, there’s more diversity discovered on specialist radio broadcasting now but the normal accent, shorn of regional identity, remains amazingly ubiquitous across UK broadcasting.

Long Tail Of Podcasting

The long tail means niche interests that might have fewer customers, instead of the large, popular, blockbuster strikes, but are being particularly catered for from the electronic age.

This notion contrasts nicely for podcasting basically it means that in podcast scholar Richard Berry’s voice, it empowers a varied selection of listeners “to locate something which more closely reflects their interests”. Nevertheless, podcasting isn’t a panacea for its perceived ills of standard radio broadcast. It requires more effective methods for directing listeners to articles and doesn’t cater especially well for elderly listeners, because of its proliferation on technologically innovative platforms, such as internet and on Smartphone programs though attempts are made to reverse this tendency.

The figures support this although the amount of podcast listeners in the united kingdom has nearly doubled in five years out of 3.2m in 2013 to 5.9m in 2018 that still only represents 11 percent of adults in the united kingdom. Since BBC radio 5 live’s Chris Warburton claimed in the NARM seminar, the future of podcasting is going to be based on making it a simpler experience for the customer without dropping the anyone can do it character of podcasting itself.

Content For Kids

While half of podcast listeners in the united kingdom are under 35, there’s an audience at both broadcast radio and podcasting that stays underserved.

This audience is kids. There’s been particular, concentrated radio content for kids from the very start of radio.

Since Gregory Watson of all FunKids radio pointed out in the NARM summit, children’s radio is underserved, not only from the UK but across the world. When there are a selection of programmes on both platforms, the emphasis is on audio, such as on FunKids that is 70-75% pop songs. Since Johnny Leagas of all CBeebies radio pointed out, children’s TV is a teenager, whilst radio is a household experience with a broad possibility of participation. This is a place where radio broadcasters can find out a thing or 2 out of podcasters.

So while press pundits and the air radio industry itself appear to draw a very clear line between radio and podcasting, the reality is they are interrelated kinds and, thankfully, neither will go away anytime soon.

Radio In Ghana : Giving Voice To The People

Radio In Ghana : Giving Voice To The People

The origins of broadcasting in Ghana especially radio have been tracked to its former colonial power under Sir Arnold Hodson that had been indigenous governor of the Gold Coast at 1935. The short term aim was to permit the crown to communicate with its topics from the colonies and also to spread propaganda.

However, over time, radio functioned a broader and more important role. From the 1940s it had brought the accolade of being considered as theater of the brain due to the music, play and information broadcasts it provided.

The transition into a post colonial surroundings was not simple. Like printing, the new government inherited the resources of the social media, in addition to its obligations, which included control mechanisms to curtail their operations.

For a nation that’s had more military than civilian administrations, the significant challenge to the rise of radio in Ghana has been political.

To get a beginning, radio is your fastest medium by which ‘coup-makers’ can declare they have captured power, and successive administrations have monopolised the airwaves. Even following the 1992 constitution imposed privatisation of the airwaves, the ruling peoples national defence council could not give up control. The closing of Radio Eye at Accra circa 1994 was an instance in point. This triggered an angry answer as a few folks believed the shut downs were still political.

The rise of the business continues to be hampered by poor infrastructure. For example, regular power outages, known as dumso from the Akan parlance, have jeopardized surgeries. Too little cash has also contributed to a engaging the help of laymen as journalists, that has resulted in a lot of radio channels becoming more professional.

Despite all these challenges, there’s been a steady growth in radio production in Ghana over the last twenty decades. It’s the most consumed moderate in the nation, with a penetration rate of approximately 90%. As stated by the National Communications Authority, in 2018 Ghana needed : 31 public radio channels five overseas radio channels 71 community radio channels 22 campus radio channels, and 358 commercial radio channels.

This exemplifies the growing democratisation of all Ghana’s airwaves, in which personal radio has outstripped state owned radio.

Reach And Impact

Radio has been a massive effect on Ghanaian society.

Primarily, its reach has significantly enhanced the dissemination of advice about topics of interest, particularly in a crisis. Radio was used to send messages to the general public in bulk enrollment campaigns and health education around HIV, Ebola, polio, malaria, and most lately, coronavirus.

Second, radio has fostered the private industry. Three quarters of radio channels in Ghana are industrial operations. And channels pay taxes.

Radio has improved pluralism through using a multiplicity of languages. Radio stations also ease varied perspectives being created, and contrary to other websites such as television and print can both urban and rural listeners have been attained.

These variables make it a significant medium in the ideology.

Integrated Approach

The significance of radio in Ghana can’t be underestimated amid the arrival of social networking. A 2018 report from Afrobarometer revealed that 56 percent of the interviewed in the poll listened to radio, 42% saw TV, 13 percent had access to the web and 15 percent to social websites. Virtually all radio channels own sites and also have hyperlinks to societal media platforms permitting them to stream live online. This has guaranteed a two way discourse via phone-ins and internet postings.

With this convergence, the question of that medium is used to supply news hinges affordability to the user. Using a smartphone and bundled information, users may even access social websites.

However there are risks. Social networking is bombarded with all the bogus news outbreak that defeats the purpose of journalism.

Composing on fake information, Ghanaian blogger and Social Networking entrepreneur Ameyaw Debrah notes:

Fake information is very much an issue in Ghana. The challenge is that I do not want it to reach some stage where people no longer think what they are seeing or reading online. Individuals are adapting to explain news in the electronic space as imitation, and therefore are reluctant to participate with this.

In contrast, radio has been deemed more credible because of the meticulous gate keeping processes coupled with the simplicity of identifying the origin of a narrative both the channel and the author.

Additionally, both private and public radio have given the data needs of individuals, particularly during elections. Specifically, personal radio continues to be a different voice and contributed hugely to the vibrancy of all Ghana’s airwaves.

Still another issue is that the syndication of articles will defeat the idea of community radio since substance from mostly major cities is levied on smaller communities.

However, radio has entire functioned Ghana well.