Evolution of Radio

The Evolution of Radio Broadcasting

Perhaps ‘Radio is a blind medium’ is the most stated catchphrase in the radio industry. But times are changing and technology plus the influence of social media platforms is changing the face of everything on earth including Radio.

As a kid you might have toyed more than once with the idea of breaking that radio box just to see the superhuman that never stopped talking and hid himself inside a small box. My kid-brother is a little bit more adventurous than myself but the day he tried it with Momma’s radio, he received the beating of his life.

The point is radio is changing and the parlance of radio being a blind medium is no longer exactly apt. In a bid to become more productive with turbo-charged delivery of content in an engaging style, Radio has changed from what it used to be.

And this change is not limited to the delivery of content and the engagement alone. It touches every single component of Radio broadcasting.

Radio Equipment

The change in radio broadcast was tied to the changes in the equipment used. Initially, the way Radio works is from a connection of the microphone to the transmitter and then to the antenna. There were no mixing consoles or turntables. Sounds were played by acoustic gramophones. In the mid-1930s, when the recorders were introduced, it helped more with retain of broadcast content. Then, a system known as Make Believe was the basis of the evolution of Disc Jockeys. The early radio studios were very large in order to accommodate the bulky equipment as well.

Microphone in a Radio Studio
Microphone in a Radio Studio

The advent of chips and computerized devices has however freed radio broadcasting from the array of heavy equipment. Turntables have given way to CDs. And Radio DJ would later come into the picture. All thanks to that, we have the likes of DJ Neptune of Urban FM, DJ Spinall of Beat FM, Lagos who is actually the first DJ in Africa to get an ambassadorial deal, DJ Caise, also of Beat FM, Lagos and was once signed to M.I Abaga-led Chocolate City until 2011 when he left, DJ Lambo who was with Raypower FM between 2008 – 2009, DJ Banky of Beat FM, Ibadan and a host of others leading the pack.

DJ Lambo is one of the most successful Radio DJs in Nigeria
DJ Lambo is one of the most successful Radio DJs in Nigeria

The early transmitters would paved way for vacuum tube transmitters in the 1920s. The early transmitters used the feedback oscillator invented by Edwin Armstrong and Alexander Meissner around 1912. Which itself was based on the Audion (triode) vacuum tube invented by Lee De Forest in 1906.

This will later give birth to smaller transmitters as some transmitters are now as small as a suitcase.

Radio Personnel

In a Radio setting, categories of personnel include the producer, the presenter, the duty continuity announcers, the broadcast engineers, the studio managers, the reporters etc. Since radio broadcast isn’t about just talent anymore but more about skills and professionalism. This led to the development of training institutions to brush up the radio broadcasters. Today’s radio broadcaster is a versatile, knowledgeable, articulate, flexible and creative geek.

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Olisa Adibua
Olisa Adibua is one of the most respected and in demand radio and television executive producer and presenter on the African continent.

Gone are the days when radio stations look out for separate producers and presenters. Radio employers are not ready to pay two men for the job of a man. So the modern radio professional speaks sense on the Microphone, produce his/her content except for the need of a supervisory producer who more often than not plays perfunctory roles.

Funding

Government has always been the funding agent of broadcast stations but with private ownership, private sponsorship came in which has turned broadcasting into more of commercial than social and public service entity.

This has also influence the government stations to commercialize their service as well. And that is why NTA network stations and FRCN stations have commercial belts when they advertise.

However, there are a number of advantages to this. This includes the availability of funds and increased mileage to advertisers’ products. Also it enables the accommodation of independent producers who produce good quality content.

Commercialization has also brought about some abuse as some stations drops their social responsibility in pursuit of sole commercial gains. A good radio station should strike a balance between commercialization and their social responsibility to the public.

 

New Media

New media is a product of digital technologies which introduced a new category of platforms. They may not be typical broadcast medium but they have huge impact on broadcasting.

So much is their influence that even regular broadcast stations are utilizing them so as not to lose relevance and on any chip of audience. Especially in this age of digital credibility when advertisers do not just want to see how many followers you have on your Facebook fan page, on your YouTube channel, on your Twitter and Instagram handles, how much traffic goes on your station website but also how conversational your broadcast station is to the public.

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Image result for new media

This is necessary since there hasn’t been an accurate system of monitoring the audience metrics of broadcast stations for a long time. In any case, phone-in does not reflect the accurate listenership rate.

And this exactly is why generational radio stations are now almost competing with regular TV stations in providing visual content. Because people don’t just want to her the OAP talk on radio, they also want to have a glimpse at what is going on in the studio. So they have to be conversational and not just communicative to their listeners.

This has also enabled citizen journalism as anyone could decide to pick up the revered title of being a journalist; open a YouTube channel or SoundCloud account and come up with shows to be recorded and uploaded on these platforms.

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And as we further explore the beautiful world of technology, the future of broadcasting is more relying on digital resources. And this will continue to impact more on radio broadcast production, transmission, presentation techniques and branding.

 

Wrapping Up

Therefore, every new player seeking to manifest in the game of radio broadcasting should endeavor to equip themselves very well. Not just with the natural communicative flair of speaking impeccable English but also with the use of simple technologies and digital platforms. This gives you higher chances of being ‘called back’ after auditions and the overall scouting process.

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