Radio stations still scream formats like it’s a war cry. ‘Format’ is a word that limits this beautiful medium from what it can actually deliver. It’s an age-old technique that levels the land for the programming crew and creates channels of irrigation for the sales.
If you are to experience this on a regular basis, it will make you feel like you are sowing paddy in a distant village with only a few farmers by your side. Everything from imaging and show type to selling and marketing revolve around this word. Some stations even have the same kind of toilet in their rest-rooms across the country, just so they stick to the format. Within the next five years, a lot will change for radio because of the countless technical innovations that keep cropping up on the World Wide Web.
Media will be ‘app-tised’ and, on radio, no one will care much about long-drawn-out interviews, audio releases, outdoor activation, game shows and the like. For radio, it will come down to music and moments. The plan will be to keep it real and on a social platform. The digi-revolution is great for consumers as it helps them access their choice of entertainment anywhere and at any time.
Imagine a radio station on an app—giving you just music sans the frogs croaking. Now that will be a radio unit that you can call a friend. The painfully-long and boring ads will not be heard, but only seen as a ticker. That will be a blessing, especially with the classless varieties of ads that get produced today. The user experience will be of utmost priority and once that’s achieved, you would rarely tune back to a terrestrial radio station.
Contrary to the notion that formats cause disruption, which creates ‘listenership’, I think it causes a bigger disconnect with the listeners. You have AIR scrambling with their radio commentary during the World Cup and, at the same time, when you switch to a private station they are in Candyland. One of the million reasons why formats are forgettable.
The writer’s views expressed here are entirely in his personal capacity.