As listeners change, so does radio

Constructing a functional radio station requires time and substantial funding. PHOTO/CHRISTIAN MILLER

OU News Bureau

Today’s airwaves aren’t necessarily airwaves anymore.

U.S. radio stations earned $15 billion in 2016, with $810 million of it generated online.

With satellite radio stations such as Sirius XM surpassing 32 million subscribers and countless podcasts available to consumers, the radio industry has had to adapt.

Lisa Jesswein is a radio veteran who worked weekday and weekend morning shifts for 23 years. Jesswein’s experience landed her shows with 100.3 WNIC, 96.3 WDVD, 105.1 WMGC and has given her the knowhow to host her own podcast.

“I started my career with Dick Purtan as one of Purtan’s People doing character voices and working in the promotions department,” Jesswein said. “My favorite part about my time in radio is that I came up during a time before social media, back when what mattered most was the music and the listener, not how many times someone visited a website or liked a picture.”

While radio studios operate equipment worth thousands of dollars, individuals can create inexpensive podcasts using just open-source recording software and a microphone. PHOTO/CHRISTIAN MILLER

The rise in instant gratification and the need to provide listeners with constant content is straining an already competitive industry.  

“I do not believe it will die, but the available employment opportunities in the industry is shrinking as large radio corporations require employees to do multiple jobs for very little pay,” Jesswein said. “I mean, who thought that anyone would pay to listen to radio or drink bottled water.  Yet, here we are.”

While listeners flock to podcasts that provide content that interests them, so do those who produce it.

“It’s great to finally be able to talk about what I think is important rather than being told by some suit who doesn’t even live in Detroit what is relevant,” Jesswein said. “Podcasting is great and is continuing to grow and feed this on-demand society we live in.”

Christopher Haag was a research intern for 760 WJR-AM Detroit and runs his own radio show at Eastern Michigan University. Studying radio broadcasting, Haag acknowledged the shift that podcasting is causing within the business.

“I helped develop and generate content for the shows every day by finding stories and clipping audio,” Haag said. “Working at a radio station would be the dream, but with today’s technology anyone can create a show out of their home thanks to the internet.”

Oakland University professor Lena Antoon has professional experience working with radio.

“Generation Z and Millennials love podcasts, and what it has taught everyone else, is how to be adaptable,” Antoon said. “Podcasts continue to pave a path that the medium doesn’t have to be as narrow, that at message can reach to the ends of the earth and essentially the change is how we actually listen.”

The survivability of the radio industry may ultimately come down to how well it can reach users through the screens of their computers, smartphones and tablets.  

“Radio industry officials are now changing their strategies to meet the expectations of new listenership because of how we listen to podcasts,” Antoon said. “As long as there are ads to be bought, radio will not die.”





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Posted by on Dec 6 2017. Filed under Featured article, Michigan. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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