As Radio Changes, People Still Tune In

Despite what current listening trends suggest, there are still many people who listen to the radio. In the past, radio had a larger audience than other mediums, especially since listeners mainly tune into stations while driving. Even though radio can be heard on many various devices like smartphones, there is still a large audience of listeners that tune into their favorite broadcasters.

According to an article on USA Today’s media website, there were over 216 million listeners ages 12 and up that listen to the radio each week in 2010. However, teenagers and young adults listening times were limited. Still, radio audiences continue to increase, especially in Hispanic communities according to Arbitron, a company that provides audience ratings to radio stations.

“Radio is much stronger than the general perception of it has been,” says Carol Hanley, Arbitron’s executive VP of sales and marketing. (USA Today)

There is no doubt that radio can be accessed in many forms today. Aside from traditional means, audiences can tune in via HD Radio, satellite, and even internet radio apps on iOS and Android mobile devices. The content is the same is over-the-air, but there are now more ways that it can be delivered, thus widening the broadcaster’s audience.

On the international broadcasting side of this issue, shortwave radio listening has decreased in some places. In fact, broadcasters like the BBC World Service, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, and Deutsche Welle have ended transmissions to some regions like the U.S. but are still available in other regions and now accessible on the internet and newer media.

More recently, the BBC ended transmissions to China due to “lack of listeners.” On a fact-finding tour, representatives from the BBC claimed that the shortwave audience was low because of signals being jammed by the Chinese government and newer technologies. Keith Perron, an independent broadcaster and founder of PCJ Media, disagreed with the findings and said that there were a number of people that asked him if he had a shortwave radio to tune into the BBC for more information about the earthquakes in 2008. In addition, the British House of Commons recommended “that the World Service should commit itself to longer-term support for an unreduced BBC China short-wave service in Mandarin.”

Even with that statement, I have noticed that there is a decently large shortwave following here in the States. There are even listeners who are around my age (I am 26 years-old)! Personally, I can see both traditional and new media working together. I like both forms as each have their own advantages. I hate hearing about a station being cut off-the-air because of low audiences. That is not entirely true. There will always be an audience who either prefers a traditional method, newer technologies like theĀ  web, or both (like myself).

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