At first, it only had to compete with black & white Television, and it did marvellously well. Then coloured- T.V came, and it survived. Now the internet/new media/ social media has arrived, and “my booty shivers me timbers” (a yahoo audible) for this medium that has been loyal to commercial and political interests, like a dog to its master.
Ever since the internet started growing in popularity, I began to fear for the survival of dear Mr. Radio.
I attended a research presentation at the uni sometime this month, and the speaker addressed this same issue under the title: “Survival of ‘radio culture’ in a Converged Networked New Media Environment” by Okoth Fred Mudhai. The summary of his submission was that “although radio’s survival as a major cultural phenomenon may appear to be under threat from new media technologies such as the cell phone, convergence makes it possible for it to remain a significant area of information dissemination and exchange particularly in rural and deprived urban areas underserved by modern cabled ICT infrastructures.”
Although his arguments hold very strong premises… my fears are hardly allayed. Here is a graph showing how well the internet has managed to divert the advertising-man’s dollar away from radio to its own coffers. You and I know (just in case you didn’t know), that advertising is one of the main sources of sustenance for any mass medium.
I am NOT here to predict whether radio will survive the technology battle or not, but I will tell you why I think it just has to survive and stay relevant to the society.
(1) For posterity sake!
I know it may sound like a lame excuse…but remember how diffifult it is to throw away an old jacket you’ve worn for so long? Radio has too much history to be thrown into the dumps just like that.
(2) Radio is argued to be the most effective tool for development communication in developing societies … its extinction could signal doom for less developed societies, especially the rural areas within these societies. What will happen to the Mai-gaddi (night watchman) who religiously tunes in to BBC Hausa Service as promptly as he does his morning prayers, what would happen to the fight against HIV/AIDS through powerful radio dramas that are popular in these regions?
Radio just CANNOT die.
If you have any other reasons why you think radio has to or will survive the 21 st century, I am really eager to know your thoughts…. drop a comment like its hot! 🙂