Radiomen are dying, and so is Radio

Do you listen to radio anymore? Real FM radio (or AM if that still tickles your fancy). I do, but I have a feeling that I’m the last of a dying breed. A breed of radio listeners. Radiomen.

I listen to a few choice stations. I love Capital FM’s shows. I like to tell myself I’m a jazz guy and a Sunday Capital show fits me snugly in. Maqbul in the morning can be hilarious, and nothing beats that time of the month when the boys are in for The Jam Takeover. Hope FM and Family Radio 316 are some of my other perches. But I’m mostly alone in this.

Most of my friends listen to stored music. (I do too, if I’m honest) and telling my friends I don’t want to be late for a particular show earns me queer looks. It stopped being cool, apparently. And the cooler kids on the block do the streaming thing. But come on, this is Kenya. Unless you have broadband at home (which – let’s be real here – most of us don’t) or in some way acquired ‘wild’ bundles then streaming isn’t your thing. It isn’t economically feasible. Yet. Our ISPs don’t even have bundles dedicated to ‘streamers’ like they do out there. Most of us consume stored content.

It isn’t just radio though. I bet TV viewership isn’t doing so well either, especially with our generation. (Gag. I hate saying ‘our generation’). If it isn’t The Trend or Betty Kyalo on telly or some sort of music show, then we’re not for it. Most of us, at least. We probably think TV and radio are archaic ways of keeping up, being abreast with the times. Not with the instance of social media.

Here’s the thing. I think TV and radio have one major fault. They are simplex, serial media transmission types. This means their core structure is meant for transmission to go out only. They can only transmit. You can’t changia to Mark Masai’s show from your TV set. Crude ways have to be formed to cater for that: calling texting, tweeting, email… They have to use other media types to communicate with their audiences. And this doesn’t always work very well. Case in point: the QTV, QFM and Radio Maisha exit.

These Nation Media Group houses didn’t leave because their catering department was stiff with sugar (okay), or any other reason. Here’s a bit of their statement:

“We are cognisant of the changing trends of how our products are being consumed. In line with this new reality, we are reorganising ourselves with the aim of transforming NMG into a 21st century company by embracing digital as the business model.”

Yes, times are changing. Duplex, faster, more conversation-friendly media is the way to go. It is no longer possible to break news as fast as it was; not with Twitter hurtling away with hashtags and trends before you get your TV/radio script together. People are more knitted into the news.  They have to respond, strike conversations; contribute even. Live videos are a thing. It isn’t easy being on TV or radio anymore. Radiomen are a dying breed.


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