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An Audience on the move and the Future of Public Radio

The second day of the 11th RadioAsia Conference started with the session ‘Radio on the Move’. The discussion focused on how content is leveraged to engage the audiences who use mobile platforms and devices to consume radio. “This segment of the audience offers a great opportunity for radio broadcasters to create more engaging and participatory content as radio is becoming a multimedia player broadcasting over the air, on the Internet and offering video and text based content with digital radio”, said the moderator, Steve Ahern, Managing Director of Ahern Media &Training.

The speakers stressed the necessity of keeping radio relevant to the future through adapting content. Rhys Holleran, Media CEO (pix) from Australia spoke about the lessons from a growing radio network and added that radio had all the characteristics the mobile consumer needs and that it will continue to evolve.

Yuko Asano of NHK, Japan, gave brilliant, practical examples of how audience can be involved through popularity voting. She explained how usually young people who connected to a radio web site only to express their opinion in a popular competition later became new listeners. The presentation contained entertaining clips from the actual competition.

The presentation of Huang Xin, Vice Director-General, Jiangsu Broadcasting Corporation, Republic of China, was a detailed account of the convergence between traditional radio and new media aimed at enhancing the reach of radio. He believes that as a result of the interaction between radio and the Internet, radio will remain relevant in the digital age, preserving, at the same time its unique charm.

Yoon Sok Oh of KBS, South Korea, drew the attention of the audience to the fact that radio needs a new strategy in preparation for the digital age.

Shanti Bhaghirathan of Capital Maharaja Organisation, Sri Lanka, said that radio has simply taken a new form, becoming smaller, cheaper, more mobile and more fascinating.

The next session focused on the public service radio as a major tool for the development process and social change in many parts of the world. This was also the leitmotif in the speakers who focused on the role of public radio in education, health, environment and communal development. Tian Yuhong, Vice – President of China Radio International said that these was the best of times and the worst of times for public radio, precisely because of the challenges it is facing in the digital era. He added that while the audiences enjoy a rising number of quality options, the public broadcasters are facing more and more competition. The way to deal with that problem was for radio to diversify its content and its platforms. The important thing was that the radio professionals should constantly change their mind set and stay abreast of the times, he concluded.

An interesting example of an untraditional approach of using radio to promote culture was given by the Director of Radio Romania, Ovidiu Miculescu. He spoke in detail about the Gaudeamus Book Fair, an initiative of the Romanian Radio that since long has not only encouraged young people to read but also has attracted new radio listeners. Mr Miculescu added that culture, education and public radio do not necessarily mean financial loss.

Fayyaz Sheheryar, Director – General of All India Radio made a detailed analysis of the differences between public and commercial radio. He also spoke about the history of public radio in India.

The last session of the RadioAsia Conference focused on case studies and practical examples of new strategies needed for content creation, marketing and advertising revenue from radio. The speakers engaged the participants with methods employed by smaller commercial stations and national level broadcasters to stay ahead of the competition.

The Gala Concert of the 4th ABU Radio Song Festival was held in the China National Radio Concert Hall.