Radio With One Voice - Local Radio Day
May 10, 2016
In many radio markets, there appears a lack of working together. Companies fight between themselves, instead of acting with one voice about radio's benefits.
There are lots of benefits in working together. By its nature, radio is made up of many different companies, and any opportunity that radio has to promote itself should be welcomed. In South Africa, the RAB closed in December 2014, robbing the country of a strong voice for radio advertising. In the UK, Global has stopped helping fund the Radio Academy, and the Wireless Group pulled out of RadioCentre and the RAB a while ago. The Australian radio market, as far as I can see so far, consists of three different radio industries who don't talk to each other.
However, something appears to be changing, at least for smaller stations in the UK. The industry is kickstarting a special Local Radio Day, to be held on May 27th - celebrating all that is good about local radio.
In part, this is a crafty way for organizers UKRD - a hyper-local radio group who own thirty small radio stations - to promote their differences. Unlike industry leaders Global or Bauer, UKRD does little networking, preferring to act as distinct local radio stations in their areas.
Nation Broadcasting, a similar company based in Wales, has already pledged to join in, as have quite a few community radio stations.
John Whittingdale, the government's Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, has also come out in favour of the Local Radio Day initiative, and has recorded a YouTube clip saying so. It's a clever campaign to enlist the support of the person you're trying to impress. (Oh, and they've even got Rick Astley's support.)
The initiative has a website of its own at www.localradioday.co.uk - with a slightly barbed history section, pointing out that:
The original [commercial radio] legislation specifically stated that local radio stations should not: "consist of identical or similar material to an extent inconsistent with the character of services as local sound broadcasting services." Local advisory committees were also legislated for, meaning that local voices from the communities these stations were to serve would be heard and, importantly, listened to.
While all the companies involved so far in Local Radio Day have a market share of under 1% nationwide, it's clear that this event has the capability to make some noise on the day.
I'm not sure that "local" content is automatically good, though both UKRD and Nation Broadcasting's output is high quality and connects with local audiences. While others espouse the benefits of "live and local," I prefer to talk about "real and relevant" content instead.
However, an anti-consolidation event in a month that has seen more radio consolidation is interesting; and can't help but remind audiences of the benefits of radio that comes from their town, rather than from hundreds of miles away.