By Andy Beaubien, BPR
Radio used to be the leader in listener interaction. It was the medium that allowed listeners to call the station and, on occasion, talk to the moderator live on the air. We now live in a vastly different world in which people can easily connect via digital platforms such as Facebook or even broadcast their thoughts to the world on sites such as Twitter.
The age of Internet communication has created a society that not only wants to receive information but also expects to be able to transmit their thoughts and opinions in return. Some Internet users simply want to be viewed and heard. You Tube has become a platform for anyone who wants to have their say, sing a song or show off their dog. One can share virtually anything, whether it is brilliant or absurd. In fact, the absurd is often much more popular.
For years radio broadcasters assumed that it was their job to transmit and the listeners to receive. This generation of media consumers expects to not only receive but to send. The question now is how do we adjust to this new reality. We can’t ignore it.
At your next staff meeting, pose the question, “How easy is it for listeners to communicate with our station? Are we taking full advantage of new Internet-based technologies that allow real two-way communication with our listeners?”
We need not only to encourage listeners to communicate with us but also make it as easy as possible to do so in a variety of different ways. To accomplish this, we must make ourselves available to the audience in as many ways as possible. For younger listeners, e-mail is already old school and telephone calls are considered by some to be an unacceptable way to make or receive communications. SMS is generally considered far preferable. However, the Internet is where the action is really happening.
Beyond two-way communication, people now expect to be able to communicate with many people at the same time. This need was pioneered by Facebook and now has given birth to a wide range of Internet “personal broadcast” services. Radio stations can also give their listeners the opportunity to communicate with other listeners as well as to our stations. The possibilities are endless but we must be the catalysts that start the dialogue. It is up to us to open the door to our listeners and let them in.