A fairly good article on Radio World has recently surfaced about the future of radio broadcasting. It’s an interesting perspective on what could happen if trends continue.
There is no doubt that traditional broadcasting is being transformed thanks to the internet and smartphones. More people have access to various amounts on content and all in the palm of their hands.
Perhaps the most affected medium in today’s world is radio. Before iPhones and Galaxy devices, people would hear their favorite programs and songs on the radio. Today, the smart device gives listeners access to stations worldwide, a massive library of songs, and programs.
What’s even more great about this trend is it is more curative and selective than what you’ll find on traditional media! People no longer have to time-shift or sit at one setting to catch their favorite content.
In 2016, podcast & streaming services like TuneIn, Spotify, and various others allow listeners more freedom in when and where to get radio content. The BBC, one of a few international broadcasters, has seen this coming and is aware of the new trends.
In an article to Radio World the UK-based broadcaster suggests that they “will be moving to an Internet-fit BBC, to be ready for an Internet-only world whenever it comes.” In many ways, it’s already happening.
For anyone who follows shortwave radio, it seems like in each passing day that a broadcaster is going off-the-air. In the past month, stations like The Mighty KBC, All India Radio, Radio Belarus, and Radio Marti have either left the HF bands or considered it. Interestingly, many broadcasters have an online presence and have used that as a way to defuse disappoint of leaving the airwaves.
As for local radio stations, we’re seeing declining audiences but nowhere near the severity of shortwave radio. You’ll also hear many local broadcasters actually push their internet feeds by either the station’s own app, TuneIn, or iHeartRadio. NPR program creators and personalities would like to push their podcasts and other web content, but the public broadcaster is unsure whether to push for web while keeping local member stations.
Radio has been changing over the years but perhaps 2016 is that “coming to Jesus” moment.
Personally, I’ve been listening to internet radio and podcasts for several years and have moved away from more traditional methods. I’ve sold my shortwave radio but instead use a Bluetooth radio and Chromecast.
I’ve also been more curative and selective in my content. There are roughly 21 podcasts subscribed to my Pocket Casts app and roughly 40 stations saved on my TuneIn Radio account (which is actually down from about 80). There’s a handful of local stations on the iHeartRadio app, but the ones I listen to the most are WREC 600 in Memphis & Q 104.3 in NYC.
In 10 years, there will be a significant amount of people listening on mobile devices. The fragmentation of media will be more apparent as more options become available for listeners.
As for content, more programs, whether on-air or not meant for broadcast, will certainly find better success online.
So will radio by completely on-line in 10 years…maybe but don’t expect most of your favorite stations to disappear.