One thing that has become apparent in my short time studying and making radio programming is the importance of knowing your audience.
I think when I came to university this is something I took for granted, I came thinking ‘Well, radio stations already have their audience, there are millions of people listening so surely we can make what we want’. I know, you don’t need to tell me how foolish I was.
Like anything, you understand things the way it best suits you, and I understand radio like any other business. If you are a business, then you need to know your market and cater your products towards them, if Gillette decided to bring out a range of ukulele’s then I’m not sure even Roger Federer could sell that to its prospective buyers. My point is businesses need to keep continuity with what their audience is expecting, just like radio needs to. But like with any business, radio cannot become predictable or the popularity and value is likely to decrease.
Once you understand your audience, know them and respect them then I believe you can truly become creative. You should know what will sit well with your audience and what simply won’t work. You can work to your audiences ‘brief’ to create content that you know they are going to appreciate.
And this is why radio is better than any other business.
In my 3 years of university I have learnt a lot, but this is by far the most important and valuable bit of information; the audience should be the first and the last thing you think about when creating any programming. I was lucky enough to be able to experience and play a part in the launching of our very own station – Exposure Radio. I was appointed a senior producer for the project, which meant I had a large influence on the station sound, how it was run and the output. The station was live for 3 weeks, and during this time I felt like all I had learned in the duration of my degree suddenly came out from the depths of my memory to aid me in difficult tasks, and not only that but I learned as much as I had in the previous two years in those 3 weeks, the standout highlight of my time at university.
My point is really two fold; firstly that radio allows for such creativity with programming, as long as it relates to the audience you are broadcasting it to, and the great thing about radio is that there is always an audience, no matter how niche.
And secondly: the fact that you can never stop developing in radio. I have learnt so much already, and I am excited that I know there is so much still to learn, and this is likely to never stop – radio is a continuously evolving media, and the future of radio is drastically aesthetically different from the 1920’s, but the principal remains the same: know your audience.