In an age where print publications are closing their doors daily, radio seems to be one medium that is more popular than ever.
From the birth of regional radio in the early 1930s to the pirate stations of the 60s to monumental historical broadcasts and everything in between, radio has had a colourful history.
Perhaps radio has managed to hold on to its mass appeal because of its ability to keep up with its listeners. Digital, online, mobile, and podcasts, listeners tune in how and when they want to.
But in the last 10 years we've seen a massive shift, with lots of the smaller, local stations either diversifying their offering or being swallowed up by giant networks. Many of these bigger networks promise to deliver a local listening experience but do so without having their feet on the ground; often broadcasting from hundreds of miles away or with very little interaction or association with the town or city in question.
Thankfully that's changing as today's listeners demand relevance, as well as convenience.
Give us more
More than a local presence or brilliant music, listeners want an accessible platform that reflects the interests of their city - something that tells them about the latest club openings, the hidden art galleries and the underground cultural projects that make it an amazing place to live, work and play. Put simply, local traffic updates are no longer enough to make you 'local.'
I've always been interested in media and radio. My mum often reminds me of when I was little and would sit in front of our giant CD player playing something like NOW 43, pretending to be Chris Tarrant on Capital FM Breakfast in London. While I've since ditched NOW 43, I still love radio. I was heavily involved in the Student Radio Association during uni and would always debate what we meant when we talked about 'local' and 'community' radio stations - what do they mean for the communities they're broadcasting to?
The death of traditional advertising
Part of the trouble with corporate radio stations is their determination to stick to an outdated advertising model. Local businesses may be happy to pay for it, but it's an approach that is slowly becoming obsolete. I don't know about you but if a load of adverts come on when I'm driving, I'll automatically switch over. Listeners now want slots that speak to them, not at them.
As recently as a few years ago, it might have seemed impossible for a challenger to come along and compete with the bigger players. I can only speak for Manchester - but I bet it's not alone - when I say that the sense of community and civic pride is greater than ever, and there's a huge appetite for something more personal.
'Authentic' is still a bit of a buzz word in 2017 but I can only see 'local' radio continuing to adapt in its efforts to create something that genuinely reflects that city. Listeners want more content from people that have actually gone to that gig venue, eaten at those restaurants, or spent a few hours tracking down that elusive pub off the beaten track. It's a mission we hope to realise with MCR Live, bringing together a brilliant city to redefine radio.
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