Radio And Automobiles, The Best Of Friends
February 9, 2016
Radio seems really important to car drivers. Car drivers are certainly important to radio. So it's a mystery to me why the two industries haven't been talking to each other more.
If you do a cursory search on LinkedIn, you notice relatively quickly that Pandora, Spotify and TuneIn are all over automotive. But the radio industry appears fairly absent.
We end up with a poor listener experience. Radio stations do silly things with RDS (or even don't broadcast it), so car receivers are worse than they need to be. Auto manufacturers do silly things with the DAB or HD user experience, so they work in a messy, inconsistent way.
But we also end up with a lack of understanding - on both sides - on what car drivers want from the radio. I've not been able to point to any research that shows that people want radio in a car, for example: much less, how to make their radio experience better.
So, three cheers for UK Radioplayer, the not-for-profit organization owned by radio broadcasters in Britain, that has gone out and done research across the UK, France and Germany - the largest of its kind, it claims.
They've discovered lots of things. Even in modern cars, 75% of all audio listening is to the radio. 82% of people wouldn't buy a car if it didn't have a radio. And so on. Radio is really important to car drivers.
They also filmed people talking about their car radios. They're fascinating snapshots of why people like radio in the car - and what could be better. It's interesting, watching the videos, to see normal people talk about how difficult touchscreens are to use in a car, and how it's important to keep your hands on the wheel.
Because radio is such a multi-tasking medium, it's easy to forget how important radio is. And perhaps we're guilty of not always communicating that. So here's hoping this research is used by radio broadcasters and auto manufacturers alike. We should talk more together. Because great cars need great radios inside them.