For the conservatives who fear that online radio is here to replace the traditional terrestrial radio, in light of radio veterans increasingly joining Gareth Cliff in the online radio sphere, I’ve decided to revisit my take on online radio from a few months back.
Radio is a unique mass communication medium. It is unique in more ways than one, but what really set’s it apart is the fact that it has that sense of a one on one conversational relationship between the listener and the host, that no other medium can match. It’s greatest strength is that it is an extension of the age old way of communication : oral storytelling. The fact that it has no visuals is one quality that has made it live without a direct, like-for-like alternative for decades.
But with the dominance of internet in the 21st century has forced us to think of new ways that will help radio appeal to the new generation, the “digital age”. This is where online radio comes in.
Online radio is already proving itself harder and harder to ignore. Modern technology, the internet to be exact, dictates that everything, especially in the media sphere, must go online. The internet has already took newspapers online, took television online and now radio is can join the party.
“The rise of the internet has put a lot of uncertainty on the traditional media players in all spheres, be it television, print and lately radio. With the world taking the digital route in the 21st century made people question the sustainability of the old communication medium that had carried us so successfully since their respective inception.”
One thing that online have over traditional media platforms is that it has a far wider reach. Using internet as it’s medium means it is guided by no geographical boundaries. With a suitable internet connection, an online radio station can reach any and every single part of the globe. For instance, a South African based online radio station can be heard by a person as far away as in South America or Australia. This is as important for the station as it is to a South African leaving abroad.
Using a South African online radio is the best yardstick to measure our readiness for online radio. The Cliffcentral.com is arguably the biggest South African online radio and it’s numbers are staggering. In a blog post on the site, Cliffcentral.com boss Gareth Cliff wrote “To date, CliffCentral has been heard in every single country bar three (Central African Republic, Borneo and Cuba), and just three months ago one of our listeners smuggled a downloaded podcast into North Korea on his iPhone, thereby taking us to places the Internet doesn’t even go,” this was on 22 June 2016. This just goes on to confirm the power and pull of online radio. That’s the reason why traditional radio’s are also taking the online route.