It’s Nothing Personal, Radio.


In a time where just about every industry is seeing more and more automation, we can’t help but wonder about the future of Radio’s ‘personal’ touch and if it is destined to follow suit.

With technology rapidly growing every day, whether we like it or not we are in the midst of seeing everything enter the world of automation. Who remembers the days of actually paying at a checkout counter at the supermarket, or going to a bank teller to withdraw/deposit money, or calling a directory service to find a company/phone number instead of just using Google?

Forgive us the nostalgia of remembering the supermarket checkers and bank tellers of our parents’ and grandparents’ generations. Maybe you too remember being given a treat or your parent receiving advice or gossip or a wry joke from a checker or teller –a nice personal touch to the service which has today been replaced by text on a screen. Not so personal anymore.

For decades DJ’s have played great music playlists while giving out community info, jokes, gossip and prizes while dealing with the current technology of the day to play the music. In this analogy, services like Pandora and Spotify are automated music delivery solutions (ones that have the potential to put more DJ’s out of work).

In banking and grocery stores, these automated solutions offer convenience and time savings for consumers. In radio, the added value that DJ’s can bring to the listening experience should help counterbalance the greater commercial inventory stations carry compared to the new digital channels. But if people believe that stations are automated and inaccessible, these notions of friendly, familiar hosts fade away.

In a US study carried out last year by NuVoodoo Media Services, a sample of 3,000 persons 14-54 from all PPM markets across the country agree with the statement: “You know stations don’t really take requests because they never answer the phone, respond to email, texts or social media.” These ratings-likely respondents are not only great radio users, they’re the controllers of radio’s report cards – the most important customers that radio has to serve.

If radio’s between-the-songs talent is great added value, we’d argue that talent has to be accessible and responsive. If your station isn’t easy to contact on the phone and responsive in email, text and social media, you’re missing out on opportunities to cement relationships with important listeners. Pretend you’re new to the area and try to find a phone number or email address for your station(s). Try calling the numbers or sending email to see what happens. Hopefully yours is one of those where the phones are answered and the communications are returned promptly.

Fortunately for radio, it is that personal touch it offers that actually helps it thrive and if, god forbid, radio ever does go in the direction the bank tellers did, it will most likely lose a huge part of its following. We’re not saying that radio is completely ‘automation proof’ but it certainly stands the test of time when you look at many industries around it being replaced by automation. Thankfully the personal touch that radio offers is one of the things that can actually drive its success and replacing it could actually negatively impact it’s following.


Content and survey data courtesy of NuVoodoo Media Services.

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