Radio revolution; don’t call it a comeback

12 February 2020

By Alexandra Tsoi

Whether it’s asking Google Assistant for your day’s schedule when you wake in the morning, getting Alexa to read you the latest news whilst you brush your teeth or using Spotify to catch up on your favourite podcast during your commute, audio has seamlessly woven itself into our daily lives. However, some are still unsure about their confidence in it.

Recently, The Times and The Sunday Times announced that they will be launching a new national radio station this year that will focus on current affairs. This sparked conversation because wasn’t it The Buggles who said, “Video killed the radio star” back in 1979? Is audio making a comeback?

The Times’ new radio station is rumoured to rival BBC Radio 4 which produces the award winning show, The Today Programme. In the announcement, Stig Abell, the launch director, said that the network’s “warm, expert” tone will bring some clarity and ease to a time of such polarising debate. 

However, in the same week of this news, the BBC had their own announcement. They said they are going to be making some major job slashes, in an attempt to save millions of pounds, and centralise their journalism production.

Of course, many BBC reporters are at risk, but one of the outlets which will receive considerable job closures is BBC Radio 5 – with a reported 60 redundancies to be made in the radio division of the organisation. 

These two opposing stories paint an interesting future for audio in the media and PR industry.

On one hand, the BBC claims that these cuts will be made in order to modernise. Then on the other hand, The Times is going in a completely different direction by starting a new digital radio station.

So what are we to believe? Did video kill the radio or not?

Many believe no.

As we approached the end of 2019, and ushered in a new decade, people within the advertising and marketing industry began predicting a rise in audio content. Everywhere, eyes – or should I say ears? – are being turned towards the importance of turning existing content into an audio format. 

Spin off podcasts are popping up all over the place. ITV’s Love Island’s podcast was a huge success last year, and now MTV (music television) has announced a partnership with Global as it makes its own podcast debut. 

With more forms of content, there are increasing opportunities for advertisers to reach bigger and more diverse audiences, and although some may not feel confident in their understanding of audio programmatic, they know they should invest. As expected, with all this new audio content, audio programmatic has found its way onto many radars. 

Some say that 2019 was just a warm up for the audio revolution. Some are calling it a comeback, and some say it never left. Not only will podcasts continue to gain momentum, but radio will also continue to pave the way – adapting, innovating and embracing change. 

For 2020, The Times’ radio station is just the beginning…