Since the current health crisis has affected radio broadcasting, quick changes were made or the stations would fail. Even after the pandemic ends, many believe that radio could be permanently altered.
Response to the Virus
In the beginning, it was unclear how stations would handle the stay at home orders and it would affect broadcasting. Many challenges had to be cleared and projects halted. The switch to remote broadcasting came fast as stations worked on clearing out buildings and making sure staff members were safe at home.
However, entire stations of staff could successfully pull off running operations from home. It is going so well, in fact, that these temporary solutions may become permanent. The transition to working from home went smoothly and there were a lot of security measures implemented.
As for this affects radio in the long-term, you can expect to see more broadcasting being run remotely even after the health crisis has ended. There are alternative ways to save money and become more efficient due to remote broadcasting that many are looking in to.
The pandemic has changed the course that technology was on, and now it is exploding for at-home work. Twenty years ago, everyone working from home would not have been possible. The technology just was not to that point yet.
Broadcasting from Home
They sent home studio kits out, each intending to make broadcasters feel at ease as they figured out how to work from a new environment. Each home studio kit included a microphone, headset, mic stand, and cables. Tutorial videos were also quickly produced to show how to set up the kits and how to use the equipment.
Sadly, there were unexpected staff cuts for those who could not work from home. They surprised many working in broadcasting and felt that this was a terrible idea, with all the uncertainty surrounding the situation.
Before the pandemic, many radio stations competed with one another for resources and listeners. Then it was probably fine, but now that the workflow has drastically changed, pulling together seems to be a much better option.
Collaboration between stations becomes more common in a crisis. Even when it is over, stations may share equipment, team members, or whole studios. The stations would likely still compete on the air, but help each other with shared resources behind the scenes.
Why Stations did not Close
Emergencies like these are when the public needs radio the most. The audience can find comfort in a familiar, live voice talking to them. With social-distancing and recent stay at home orders, having something routine, like listening to your favorite radio station, is reassuring and can help you get by.
Many radio staff members agree that this makes it more important now that stations work together to stay on the air. Many people are counting on stations to entertain them and keep them informed about the health crisis.
Increase in Stations
New stations are popping up as many turns to making amateur broadcasts as a creative outlet. People are broadcasting from their bedrooms to help other people not feel so lonely during these times. They also provide news on essential services and information on how their areas are doing.
The sudden addition of so many new stations shows that radio is suited for these situations. It offers a chance for connection between individuals and a sense of escape from isolation.
Anyone can stream a digital broadcast- as long as you have a decent computer, headphones, and a microphone. Your live stream may cheer someone up!
Local Stations are Improvising
Smaller, local stations have had little to fall back on when the virus arrived and a lot of them have been left to navigate changes in the media alone. Each station, however, has had an original reaction to the situation.
Many local broadcasters have had to take their own crash-course lessons on how to run from home, unlike those from bigger networks who had materials sent to them. Small broadcasters also had to find and prepare their own equipment for broadcasting too.
Some local radio hosts said their set-up does not resemble a “home studio” as much as it should- microphones attached to office chairs in the bedroom never would have been imagined in the past. But, if they sound all right on-air, then everything is fine.
Prerecorded Radio is on the Rise
Prerecorded radio, in the place of live broadcasts, is also becoming more common. And with it, it will lose the fear that sharing a live experience with an audience.
Computers can generate algorithms to figure out what subjects will be the most popular and podcasts are pouring into the internet. However, many stations have been able to find a balance between creating prerecorded content and live shows.
Changes in Music Tastes
Coronavirus has also been changing the music we listen to. Working from home gives people more time to listen to music, it showed growth in speaker sales because of this.
Many popular genres of radio music have declined in listeners. Notably among these, pop and rap. Everyone is listening to unique styles.
Other genres have been on the rise. They are not what you might expect- folk and children’s songs are among the most listened to now. But why is that?
With many people staying at home, the focus has shifted. Due to recent lockdowns and stay at home orders, people need something comforting to listen to at home. Spotify statistics also show that people are more interested in music revolving around doing housework or other chores.
No More Commutes
Not only has what we listened to been changing, but where we listen has also drastically changed. No one is playing the radio in the car – the need for traveling has dropped significantly. But because of this, SiriusXM, and other stations like them, will struggle.
SiriusXM is designed for cars, but fewer people are leaving the house. They also expect new car sales are also to drop after the health crisis has ended and we enter a recession. To stay afloat, SiriusXM has launched its own streaming services.
Without people doing their long commutes, podcast listens have also been declining. Although, in Europe, the amount of listens has been going up. Americans prefer to listen to podcasts while driving to work, however, Europeans seem to prefer to tune in at home.
Even with listens dropping per podcast, new podcasts continue appearing every day as people seek creative ways to reach out to each other. The materials to start a podcast are widely available- you probably have a laptop with a microphone at home already- and many are taking advantage of this.
Tons of new and interesting topics are being streamed every day! Plus, there are many options out there for listeners. Now, audiences can be reached through apps and many streaming services.
Summarize For Me, What Changed?
To summarize, the pandemic has affected radio broadcasting, which will probably last long after this is over. Many stations have been successful at changing their workflow to allow for staff to work remotely. It went so well, it might stick around.
Technology is advancing with a focus on being able to work from home. Stations are adopting higher virtual security measures to keep their data safe while everything is operated online.
Many also expect radio stations to work together to stay on-air. Radio provides their audience comfort and a sense of familiarity- it is important for broadcasters to keep that bond alive during the pandemic.
New stations have been continuously popping up and small, local stations were hit the hardest- forcing them to improvise with their equipment and strategies. They have also been using prerecorded radio more often.
Changes in audiences listening habits have been noticeable, among also where people listen to their music. Without listeners using cars as frequently, noticeable changes in services like SiriusXM are showing up.
Despite these changes, radio staff have been working hard to provide you with music and broadcasted shows. It is important to remember all the hard work they are putting towards bringing radio into the comfort of your home.
Quality entertainment is more important now than ever. Most radio stations realize this and are doing their best to stay on-air.