Alive & Kicking! - Radio in the Digital Age | Exhibit Tech Tech News
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Alive & Kicking! – Radio in the Digital Age

The experience of playing music has evolved over the years. We are now in a world filled with endless streaming services, viral songs, and Instagram trends. With this wide array of options, it is easy for people to assume that traditional ways of consuming music like the radio are now irrelevant. However, one cannot deny the fact that radio has survived multiple waves of technological advancement starting from the launch of televisions back in the 1940s and the cultural shift through MTV in the early 1980s. 

My first introduction to music in general, like many others from my generation was through television. A two-in-one radio and cassette player in the living room was exclusive only to my grandparents and presumably yours too. However, travelling to school and back meant listening to the radio in the van which was a delightful experience. Thus as time went by and I could finally drive myself, radio became synonymous with driving. Even now, long drives mean listening to 94.3 Radio One as the station takes us through various genres of Western music sprinkled with other local stations here and there. Sure Apple CarPlay and Android Auto allow drivers to go around streaming their favourite music online while driving but the novelty factor of driving while listening to music remains intact. I assumed I am in the minority of the people who still enjoy listening to music on the radio but was taken aback by the data recently collected by Toluna India. 

Toluna India conducted a study between December 19, 2022, and January 2, 2023, where it surveyed over 1200 FM radio listeners aged between 18-50. The participants belonged to different socioeconomic backgrounds and economic statuses across 30 Tier 2 and 3 markets in India. Surprisingly,  80 per cent of the respondents claimed that they listened to the radio on a regular basis. The percentage of radio listeners goes even higher among working professionals with 90 per cent of the respondents enjoying the radio. However, the younger lot of the respondents belonging to the student category witnessed a drop to 66 per cent (which is not bad considering younger kids are exposed to all kinds of sources of entertainment) 

The study also found that 33 per cent of people in Tier 2 and 3 regions in India consider radio as the preferred source of entertainment. This data is enough to assume that radio is pretty much alive and kicking contrary to the popular belief that it is a dying breed of entertainment. 

On the other hand, similar to our staple cable TV entertainment options, radio has also made its way online. Radio stations are transitioning online with an ever-increasing amount of radio streaming apps. Thus, people who thoroughly enjoy listening to the radio can even tune in online, similar to all other streaming platforms. All while I sat there believing that radio is dying under the crushing weight of the ever-growing streaming market, the Indian government threw a curveball to all smartphone manufacturers breathing life into the traditional source of entertainment. 

Back in early May 2023, the Indian government issued an advisory to mobile phone makers in the country to ensure that FM Radio is enabled and also easily accessible on smartphones. This move is undertaken in order to bridge the digital divide and make radio services accessible to people in the rural and remote areas of the country that cannot afford to buy standalone radio sets. Additionally, this also ensures that people have access to all information and entertainment through radio, especially during times of emergencies and disasters. 

The history of modern human civilization is deeply influenced by the radio. Be it World War II when effective radio propaganda was used by the Germans to erode pro-British sentiment, or the iconic film Lage Raho Munna Bhai which showcased the power of the medium and made ‘Good Morning Mumbai!’ synonymous with radio in the country, the contribution of radio cannot be overstated. So, get on your ‘Radio Ga Ga’ as the offline music service will definitely encompass a new journey in the digital age!

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