Does the internet age mean the end for radio?

Marketing guru Terry O'Reilly says don't count radio out, even in this all digital internet age. Radio is still the voice in your ear.

Don't count on it, says Terry O'Reilly, radio is still 'the voice in your ear'

Has the internet killed the radio star? Don't count it out, says marketing guru Terry O'Reilly. (CBC)

People often ask me, "What's going to happen to radio?"

I'm always amused by that question, because the subtext is that radio is in trouble. That the new digital world and the internet surely have to end radio's long reign.

To that I say, "radio is the ultimate survivor." It was the first-ever mass broadcast medium, starting in the 1920s in both Canada and the U.S.. Since then radio has survived the competition from motion pictures, television, VCRs, PVRs and now the web.

If I had to put my finger on why radio has survived, I would have to say because it is such a "personal" medium. Radio is a voice in your ear. People rarely listen to radio in groups anymore, the way an entire family might still sit in front of the television.

Radio also broadcasts news and programming that is mostly local in nature. If you've ever wondered whether radio is important to your daily routine, just look at the disruption you feel when your favourite morning radio host is replaced.

It is a big adjustment, and it can take a lot of getting used to.

In other words, radio matters. And through all the technological changes happening around radio  from AM to FM, from satellite to internet radio  basic terrestrial radio survives into another day.

On average, Canadians are listening to 16.3 hours of radio per week. Tuning to conventional radio continues to decline gradually. It is down by about 3 hours per week since 2006 across all age groups.

Nationally, CBC Radio One captured an audience share of 12.5 per cent in the autumn of 2013. This was a record high fall for CBC Radio One, which continues to show a steady share increase since 2006.

And in the world of advertising and marketing, radio continues to be incredibly innovative.

I recently judged the London International Advertising Awards Show, and some of the radio I heard there was phenomenal. The ideas were brash, fresh and broke boundaries.

Of the more than 700 radio commercials we judged, it was the "Innovative Radio" category that grabbed our attention.

It was clear that a whole new world of possibilities is opening up for the world's oldest broadcast medium.

So when people ask me what's going to happen to radio, I just say I can't wait to find out.


About the Author

Terry O'Reilly

Host 'Under the Influence'

The award-wining host of the radio series "The age of persuasion," Terry O'Reilly has been in the advertising and marketing business for over 30 years, and worked in some of the most creative shops in Canada. His new series is called "Under the influence," and can be heard on CBC Radio One.


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