Sign of the Times

By Peter Don, BPR

Covid changed the way people look at many things, from social interactions to work from home to the re-shaping of media patterns and habits. Lockdown stories involving bread making, TV series binges and wearing facemasks are just some of the symptoms of the way the world changed in 2020 and 2021.

If you’ve just woken up after the long slumber as the world starts to get back to ‘normal’ with vaccination levels increasing, places like the UK looking forward to July’s ‘freedom day’ and New York officially celebrating the end of the pandemic with fireworks, the most obvious question is what’s changed?

Around the world, media generally was badly hit as economies were impacted by the effects of covid. Today the news is significantly more upbeat as radio in particular bounces back strongly – last month Australian radio reported May revenue increase of 73% following an increase in April of 51%.

But what else is happening to radio?

Contemporary music formats are finding more and more challenging as music tastes split and polarise and radio competes with various forms of social media for their listeners’ time and attention.

Streaming giants Spotify, Amazon, You Tube etc. continue their push to create ‘radio like’ services.

Podcasting is becoming a way of life.

In short, Radio needs to be very clear how it will meet these new threats – doing nothing isn’t an option.

Now here’s the interesting bit:

The ‘biggest’ formats are versions of oldies including Classic Hits / Classic Rock and news & talk according to latest listening trends from the US and other markets. Why is that?

Classic Rock is still being used in movies and gaming – introducing 50+ bands to new audiences

Classic Hits replaces 60s oldies with songs from the 80s and 90s.

In their different ways both of these formats are reminders of a simpler and more comfortable time – before the world got crazy.

And News and Talk? Well, because we’re in changing and often uncertain times the appetite for information is increasing.

Be very careful not to assume that the ‘bunker mentality’ will last, as the world emerges to a post lockdown phase, there is likely to be a swing back to new, up to date feel-good music among many age groups. You need to have your finger on the pulse to understand exactly what your listeners are looking for.

 

So how does the future look from your perspective, are you ready to meet the new challenges?

 

 

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