Radio Moves Into the Modern Age

When was the last time you listened to a radio? If you drive (PRNewser is based in NYC where driving is left to the yellow cabs), then maybe you’ve turned on a radio at some point in the last decade. But even in your car, you may be listening to an MP3 player.

The radio seems a medium from a bygone era when people listened to baseball games and got freaked out by The War of the Worlds. But our guest columnist Maury Tobin, CEO of Tobin Communications Inc. is here to tell you it just ain’t so.

Tobin Communications specializes in PR via radio but also focuses on other multimedia channels, much like radio today does. Could your media strategy use a section for radio outreach? Click through to read on.

Radio: Truly Thinking Outside of the Box by Maury Tobin, CEO of Tobin Communications, Inc.

The influence of radio is immense because it is a personal, widely available, and primarily free medium. Radio allows you to hear, not just imagine, a laugh; to engulf yourself in a program while driving; to cook dinner to the backdrop of interesting stories; to stay abreast of what’s happening in the world; and to be part of the greater conversation.

But it’s logical that when many people, including communication practitioners, think of radio and its impact, they likely think of radio in its traditional form: a box or display with a dial that you turn. This is generally known as terrestrial (land-based) radio, through which a FCC-licensed frequency, tower, and transmitter are needed.

However, due to the many advanced ways people access radio programming – through the Internet or via devices that play MP3 files and plug into the dashboard in newer cars – radio’s reach is now increasingly endless. Now, even the definition of radio is evolving.

Despite radio’s competitors continuing to try to cobble together a crisis of its failure and antiquity, the certainty is that this medium is morphing and its future is healthy. Indeed, analyses show that radio stations are becoming effective multimedia adopters.

WCMY-AM, Ottawa, Ill., for example, has 24/7 streaming audio on its website, provides stories in both audio and script form, promotes what content it wants to showcase, highlights “lively open phone conversations,” and provides at-will programming.

What WCMY is doing – shifting its practices on how radio programming is applied and delivered, based on emerging ways in which consumers can access information – is indicative of how my business philosophy is growing as well. Changes in maximizing content distribution choices and new trends motivate me to explore varying multimedia options, and to continue to expand the services, and the skills, I offer.

From recalling the once-ubiquitous faxed press release to today’s more sophisticated audio and video streaming, it is clear the meaning of integrated communications has changed. Another case in point: I regularly work with the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) and arrange Radio Media Tours (RMTs) focused on building public awareness about colon cancer and screening. But this past year, I also helped produce video podcasts which provided up-close, virtual tours of healthy, to diseased, colons. Made possible by the lens of a camera used by a gastroenterologist performing colonoscopies, these podcasts were fascinating and unique. ACG notified its target audience about them through its e-mail newsletter.

I remain keenly aware of the many content choices the public has, and the massive flow of information that exists. I know this is challenging to the PR industry and requires new thinking about what “media” is and how to maintain relationships. But the über-debates over both PR and radio’s futures reveal two things: one, PR is being re-shaped; and two, radio will remain viable in a world of 24/7 news buzz, social media, and personalized communications.