Radio Battling For Relevance In Digital World

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It was once the essential part of every household but today it is mostly consigned to cars or other vehicles to while away travel time.

The bad news now is that this terrestrial means of transmission is dying as growing digitalisation takes over the traditional medium. The Generation Z or Millennials (those born after 1995) prefer to listen to their music on streaming platforms.

With the advent of YouTube, Spotify, Pandora and others, youngsters today use them to source their music and keep up-to-date with the latest hits.

Car companies have become wise too. New models are providing digital options for streaming on the dashboard, sidelining the AM/FM radio to an additional option.

The in-car media screens in new vehicles can easily access streaming programmes and these are pushing the radio out of the centre of the dashboard.

The introduction of Google Home, Amazon Echo and other devices has also given households a new option to play with. They can stream any music they want from these devices and listen in the comfort of their homes.

The radio industry needs to come to terms with these realities and must move with the times to face the mounting digital challenges. The battle for survival has already begun and new ideas have to be pitched to stay relevant in the digital age.

Chitra Shankar, 24, an IT engineer from Pune, likes to stream her music but does listen to the radio in the morning.

“It’s my morning ritual. I put on the radio and listen to whatever music they offer, my kind or otherwise. But I do like the constant chatter of the RJs and the information they give about the music,” she adds.

“It won’t die. The radio will survive like it did for generations together,” says Sanjay Joshi, a Pune businessman and Ham Radio Operator.

“Radio has become a habit with people. It is part of their lives. The radio’s contents are still relevant I feel.

“It will adapt as time goes by. I am sure it will embrace the digital generation as it keeps evolving. For me, radio is a passion and I am confident it will be there forever.”

For Rajiv Ghanekar, 60, a retired bank manager and cricket fan, the radio has played such an important part in his life.

“I remember that the radio was my constant companion in my youth. I had a portable one which I carried with me quite often, especially during cricket matches to keep myself updated with the score.

“And there was nothing better than listening to Hawa Mahal on All India Radio just before going to bed.

“The radio will stay. It has survived despite many ups and downs as technological advances tried to marginalise it,” he added.

Sara Mehta, 13, is a music lover who wants to be a singer when she grows up. She has heard of the radio but her choice of medium to listen to music is streaming.

“Why use the radio when I can play what I want on YouTube or Google. It’s so boring to tune on to the radio and wait and wait for your favourite song to play,” she says.

“I don’t even like some of the songs they play. Sometimes they play old Hindi songs which I don’t relate to.

“The radio will die unless they change their content to suit us too,” she adds.