Radio people have always had a symbiotic relationship with Technology – which one to hug and which one to stay away from? From the moment we saw the first computer being brought into the radio station, our curiosity was tempered with a bit of paranoia. Was this machine going to replace us?
But as we gained more confidence in the software and got to know the computer a bit more, we started to think about how these tools could make our collective lives better. Imagine, knowing just how often each song played. Whatever equation we had worked up in our heads, we could test what rotations worked best for our audiences and dare I say, which ones actually made the ratings go up.
After the computer came to roost, it wasn’t long before digital copies of all the audio could be loaded into that blinking box in the studio. Mapping digital control boards to the library in the computer and mustering the power of those rotational algorithms of Selector meant we could program long stretches of time knowing exactly what our station would play. The concept of taking a piece of vinyl out of the sleeve, the disc out of its box or having to pull individual units of things to put together a show was gone.
But did radio lose the human touch with all this technology driving everything? The presenter still had to speak. We still have human voices reading the news and the listeners didn’t change. Or did they change? They sure did. They started to create their own playlists on their own technologies. How can a radio station be better than the listener’s home brew station? This is why you have to let technology generate more creativity time.
What does a listener really want out of their home-town station? Now that we have voice tracks, we can employ the best talent on many stations around the country; even the world. Having a nationally known personality can help you beat the competition, so what you put around that network show is even more important today. Have you mastered your market?
Radio is performance art. If the listener knew what was coming next, they probably wouldn’t listen as much. They want to hear new songs. They need to know what is going on in their own backyard. They crave companionship. Radio gives them something that can be experienced without even looking up from their texting and phone games. Radio fills the silence. So, what is the answer to all this technology and choices it delivers to the audience? What is radio’s greatest challenge? The main focus of radio is staying exciting and relevant and remembering to be local.
With everyone running around and constantly needing to be connected, some of the new value-added features like Selector2GO, Zetta2GO and Aquira2GO give radio programmers and sales people tools that keep them in command of the deal and the product, no matter where they may be. Just like our listeners, why not have the latest technology to make our lives better?
In the United States, we know more about each listener with Media Monitors Mscore. We can see what happens when certain songs are played on each station. Audience Reaction, along with innovations like Feature Tracker in the Media Monitors service is a valuable way to know which content on your air keeps the listeners and which needs to be eliminated. Many of these technologies will be available everywhere soon. Embracing technology doesn’t mean losing your soul, it means understanding the value of the modernism and how it applies to your art.
Doing endless hours of manual scheduling might make one feel as if one is protecting these arcane rituals from extinction, but with a short journey up the learning curve anyone just might discover how to make a program like GSelector actually make a better log, and thus, a better sounding station. Or you can do it the old fashioned way and then use the computer to see how true your manual rotations are. So, take a day to learn a new technology to help your company, and thus, help yourself advance in the business.
Radio in America was a modern invention in 1920. It didn’t take very long to see the power of transmitting one program to many. Radio has never stood still. Radio’s reach is tremendous. And radio still has the opportunity to move large numbers of people to musical events, local advertisers and create a sense of community when it is done well.