Radio – the “theater of the mind,” which has been a part of our lives for more than a century – has always had a feeling of mystery, a mystique matched by few other businesses or entities. Yet, radio is every bit as much of a business as all others, serving two sets of clients: the listener and the advertiser.
With the advent of any new technology, however, there has always been the discussion of “radio’s last days,” that the new technology would displace radio and make it irrelevant or forgotten. This attitude has been thrown around for decades – from the introduction of television in the 1950s to the growth of the internet and digital, on-demand media. However, radio not only has survived these challenges, but has grown and thrived, and remains relevant today more than ever, for several reasons:
Radio is Local
No matter the size of the community, from the biggest cities to the smallest towns, if there is a radio station, chances are you’ll hear local voices on the air, local news and public service announcements, sports and other remote broadcasts from businesses you know and trust. A radio station joins a community together like few other things can, with a common voice heard by anyone listening – a voice that becomes a familiar friend.
Radio is Everywhere
For decades, almost every vehicle has had a radio built in, and this will continue to be radio’s main source for an audience for many years to come. But most people don’t know they’re probably carrying a portable radio with them right now. Many models of Android-based smartphones contain an FM receiver built in, which can be activated using an app called NextRadio. Also, many stations now stream their content live on the internet, which can be accessed on the station’s website or through other services. If you have a smart speaker at home, all you have to do is ask it to play your favorite station, and chances are it can.
Radio is Immediate
When a community needs to be informed of a sudden situation, from a natural disaster to other events affecting many people, the local radio station is typically the go-to source for immediate information. This has been proven several times in the Prescott area, notably in 2002, when the Indian Fire threatened the city and hundreds were evacuated. Everyone needed information and assurance, and the familiar voices of the local radio stations stepped up and provided those needs. Another example happened in February 2015, when a cut transmission line shut down the internet and most cellular and landline phones, along with many services they provided, in Northern Arizona. While spotty to nonexistent service was being restored back to normal over several hours, radio stations remained on the air, again providing the information people needed to understand the situation and adjust accordingly. Today, radio continues to educate and inform during the current pandemic, with news and information specific to our community.
Radio is On
Almost every station is on the air 24/7 – no waiting for the next edition, the next post, the next tweet; the station people love is available at the turn of the dial. And unlike other media, you can’t fast forward a radio station. Radio moves ever forward at its own steady pace.
The overall value and responsibility of local radio to people, to businesses, to our entire community, as a source of entertainment and information, has never been greater. While the challenges remain to adapt to new conditions and technology, the radio industry will meet these challenges as it has over the past century, adapt and continue to serve its listeners and clients well into the 21st century and beyond. QCBN
By Jason Zinzilieta
For additional information or to inquire about radio’s business and advertising opportunities, call 928-445-1700 or visit kyca.info.
Jason Zinzilieta is general manager and co-owner of Prescott Broadcasting, LLC, which operates radio stations KYCA and KAHM in Prescott.