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Think BR: What predictions would Socrates have for radio?

Just as writing was not the end of memory, the internet has not sounded the death knell for radio, writes Robbie McIntosh, strategic insight director, Bauer Media.

Robbie McIntosh, strategic insight director, Bauer Media

Robbie McIntosh, strategic insight director, Bauer Media

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In 500 BC, Plato reminded us that Socrates had believed that writing would be the end of memory.

This probable inception of media ‘endism’ predates, by quite some margin, video killed the radio star, TV being the end of cinema and internet being the end of the printed word and radio as we know it.

However Socrates was generally wrong with his endist prediction, with most of us possessing the twin powers of writing and memory in the same way that we now enjoy the twin consumption of cinema as well as TV, and the internet as well as radio.

It was the creeping mantra that the internet would be the end of radio that made us curious, especially at a time when we and other commercial players are seeing continued increases in listener figures and radio was found by a recent Ofcom report to be the most trusted broadcast medium.

Our thoughts also turned to the recent Rajar analysis which found that radio digital platforms actually act as growth enablers. We decided to find out more.

At the beginning of this year we realigned our 42 local, regional and national stations into two new commercial radio portfolios, Bauer Place and Bauer Passion.

Stations in the Place portfolio champion local communities and strive to deliver more relevant local programming.

The Bauer Passion portfolio is home to all of our passionate, iconic brands dedicated to music and lifestyle, such as dance music station Kiss, rock brand Kerrang!, iconic music brand Q, celebrity brand heat, and commercial digital station, The Hits.

At Bauer one of our key aims is to deliver our radio experience to listeners in every way possible.

Mobile apps for all operating systems and station Facebook pages and events are as philosophically important to us as FM transmitters, DTV carriage and our DAB profiles.

It was the Passion audiences we wanted to investigate. They are characterised by the emotional connection they make with a music format.

A mobile audience, they use every platform available to engage, from FM to DAB, Freeview, online, social media and mobile, making them a fantastic barometer for analysing the way in which people consume music.

We set out to understand exactly how radio and the internet compare and contrast in our listeners’ discovery and experience of music.

And what better way to find out more than to enlist the help of our very own young, multi-tasking, multi-media and multi-platform Passion Portfolio listeners?

If radio was going to be at risk from losing any group of listeners to the seduction of the internet, it is this group of youthful, passionate music fans.

Highly active online and in their daily social media involvement, all things digital play an important part in their lives.

So what did we find? Among this group of our listeners 82% of them rate the internet as the most important thing in the world.

That’s just behind family and friends and just ahead of home and music. Radio tucks in at 63%, just behind the mobile phone and ahead of TV and social networking.

However, importance to lifestyle does not translate to importance to music listening.

Radio is still clearly ahead as the most popular way to consume music in the past week at 88%: 27 percentage points ahead of MP3s in second on 61%, with internet streaming on 22%. 

When asked what was the main way of consuming music in the last week, radio stood alone at 48%, more than double MP3 at 22% and internet streaming at only 3%.

But the most fascinating findings in this survey for our clients, music industry partners and ad community are around music discovery and trust. 

Eighty three percent find out about new music from radio, followed by 53% from friends, TV music channels at 50% and internet video, social networking and streaming a long way behind.

When asked whose opinion they trust on new music, radio stands alone at 42%, with friends in second place at 22%.

Internet video, social networking, artists’ recommendations and internet streaming are in sub 5% single figures.

Radio brands who create agenda-setting content that’s available on all platforms 24/7 are brands who will enjoy such levels of trust and influence with even the most web loving of listeners when it comes to music discovery. 

The internet is not radio’s end. It’s a really successful part of our identity. And when it comes to musical discovery it is radio alone that gives listeners the knowledge and resources to go further into the online environment to explore and expand on the musical interest that radio continuously shapes and ignites.

Robbie McIntosh, strategic insight director, Bauer Media


The Bauer research was conducted through the Facebook pages and websites of the Passion portfolio stations. There were 818 respondents in total.

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