Upon entering Professional Communication, we were bright eyed and overwhelmed with the options that lay at our fingertips. We were both drawn to this course as a result of a love for radio presenting. Our aspirations were to learn how to achieve our dream, of sitting behind a microphone and speaking out to a cohort of fans. Our voices would one-day fuel lengthy conversations regarding music, politics and bring charisma to the most mundane happenings of life.
However, much like the development of traditional written Journalism to online platforms, long form radio style broadcasting is facing the need to transform. The modern world of social media has resulted in the rise of urgency and immediacy. Newspapers were forced to move online in order to respond to reader demand. Readers desired the ability to access news, anytime, anywhere, when it best suited them. Written online digital news was to be consumed in short doses, and to avoid tiresomely flicking through papers, readers could now access stories best suited to their interests through links on webpages. The virtual newspaper was accessible and allowed an old style media format to remain prevalent in the modern technology driven world.
The consumers desire for a radio format that responds to the need for convenient, immediate and unique audio consumption has resulted in some changes in this traditional medium. Just as written media has become far more prevalent in an online format- where everyone and anyone can report news, have their say on current affairs and air their opinion with no filter, radio has changed form in an effort for it to be made more widely accessible for its listeners. Examples of such changes include the uploading of entire radio shows to websites in the days following their airing on analog platforms. Further, podcasting has allowed for access to specific segments of radio to be released for the public to download or purchase via certain markets such as ITunes. These formats are all well and good and certainly have resulted in a heightened interactive relationship between the listener and their radio show of choice. However, as of yet there is no way of accessing particular desired segments without trawling through a mass of content, mainly the entire length of dialogue programs, often spanning three to four hours in length. The process if you choose to do it is time consuming and monotonous.
Traditional radio style follows a “narrative” style . As a result, the way in which audiences find meaning within a radio segment is limited. Audiences are conditioned to find meaning through defining indicators. These could include, a jingle at the beginning of a segment or a short composition, which announces the news report every hour. Narrative has become “the key form of cultural expression of the modern age”. While it is feasible for audiences to derive meaning form the beginning, middle and end which a radio shows presents, listeners are still required to listen to entire segments to understand this meaning. Radio presenters often refer back to earlier points in the show in a joking manner, but if the audience has just tuned in, they will not understand. It seems to us, that this ‘narrative to audience’ style is faulted, as it is presenting a passive listening style, where audiences are only expected to derive meaning from the presenters radio show from beginning to end. Radio simply isn’t addressing audience’s need and we predict this will have dire effects in the future of the industry, and possible the demise of the industry, as we know it.
“The curse of broadcast technologies is that they are profligate users of limited resources” and it is this downfall that has driven us as aspiring radio presenters to present a modern style of radio, which has been adapted to suite the needs of an active audience base driven by a desire for immediate media consumption.
Consequently, we came up with a transformed style of radio, which we think will best suite listeners we will present to in the future. We decided to trial it to see what an alteration of the typical radio format would sound like and how it could alter, and benefit, the listening experience. The radio style we present was influenced heavily by Lev Manovich’s Database As A Symbolic Form. In the text, Manovich speaks of the development of new media as being without narrative; they don’t necessarily tell the story that old media traditionally did. When speaking of new media platforms, “they don’t have a beginning or end; in fact, they don’t have any development, thematically, formally, or otherwise, that would organize their elements into a sequence… instead they are collections of individual items, where every item has the same significance as any other” . The concept of segmented audio files within a database was the one we wanted to manipulate and present in this assignment. We believe there was a need to essentially move audiences towards database logic. As you will hear, we have allowed for the consumer to listen to the 3-4 minute segments at their leisure and as they desire. The framework of the “radio show” is removed, leaving individual segments, which a listener can work through, individually, and string together to create some sense of meaning. Varying content is included to suit the mood of the consumer and if they tire of a certain theme they are instantly able to move on and listen to something else. We believe that this method of presenting radio allows variety in listening but more predominantly places the listener in control.
While the framework of the traditional “radio show” was easily removed, we also faced an issue which could arise in the future; the demise of radio stations. Narrative configuration is evident within shows but also in a station as a whole. Issues arise when we, as presenter, lack the traditional framework that a radio station such as Triple J would possess. Triple J as a station are a youth network, and it is quite clear that the presenters on their programs have been chosen because of the laidback style they represent, the love for independent music and their colloquial language and presentation style. Without a station and an already established image, it will be of paramount importance that the presenters establish their own identities, rapport and style within the limited segments- we need to ensure that listeners are attracted to the style of the show as it will not necessarily be associated with the big brands and connotations that come with already consolidated mainstream stations.
As listeners may only tune in for one segment, we need to ensure that we are identifiable and a brand in ourselves. Whilst this lack of a narrative structure may place a strain and extra pressure on the presenters, the style of radio is to have a whole new impact on listeners, which will largely benefit the radio experience. This alteration is largely the result of the interactive nature of our new format- and the way in which listeners are able to contribute and construct their own shows from our content, as well as comment below the audio file on our website to express their likes, dislikes and general attitudes of the segments on any given day. This not only promotes an interactive relationship for the listener, allowing them a sense of participation, but also gives presenters and producers immediate feedback on the work.
The platform that we have presented our radio segments on is not the platform we envision for final presentation. The segments, which would be produced in quantities and uploaded daily, would be presented in a playbox similar to that seen on Soundcloud. There would be a blog roll of segments on the main page, but also a section where users can search for a segment based on hashtags. These hashtags would connect segments from different times and group them and would promote user accessibility to their areas of interest. Comment bars will also be displayed below the playbox. These comments will replace audience activity within the show, which is now seen in traditional radio through calls and text lines.
Drawing from Chris Anderson’s The Long tail, we also gained some knowledge of distribution methods that are currently in practice. From this reading, we decided that in the finalized delivery platform, once a 3-4 segment is complete, recommendations would appear for what the listener can consume next. Anderson explains that “You can find everything out there on the Long Tail, There’s the back catalog”, and by adopting this theory of recommendations, seen on the likes of Amazon, we will be able to maintain listeners by “following the contours of their likes and dislikes, easing their exploration of the unknown.” Essentially, we would collect data regarding individual users previous topics of interest and use this to streamline recommendations that meet those interests. We will then combine these with recommendations of segments likened to the one the listener just consumed. While we are technically inadequate to present such an idea in this assessment, the logic is feasible.
In sum, the new Networked Radio Platform we have devised is an experiment responding to all that we have learned through the Networked Media course this year. By exploring the dominance of hypertext within our society, we have learned how best to manipulate it and use it in a way that can promote good and a more accessible and suitable medium for audio consumption in the modern landscape.
Want to listen to our radio segments? Listen Here
Anderson, C 2006, ‘The Long tail’, Wired Magazine.
Manovich, L, 1998 ‘Database as Symbolic form’, The Digital, Millennium Film Journal, No. 34, 1999.