15 years ago, we had Orchard FM in Somerset, Sunrise Radio in Bradford, and Juice Liverpool. Now, Global owns around 70% of the market, and the UK is filled with many Capital, Heart, and Smooth networks. However, one thing has remained constant throughout, the importance and the true value of local radio. So what are the benefits of local radio?
As the UK acclimatises to a new world of enforced isolation, radio proves its strength as a valuable source of information, reassurance, and fun. As one of the most trusted and accessible forms of media, it is perhaps no surprise that so many are tuning in right now. The latest RAJAR stats show that 48.1 million adults tune in to the radio each week, and people are listening for longer now that we’re at home more.
The last 12 months through the pandemic have also shown how vital local radio is, especially our local BBCs, for information local to us on the pandemic. Sadly, for now, there are no RAJARs, as face to face recruitment for collating the data has been suspended. However, with more at home, I would have expected listening figures to be at a high as more of us listen in for updates.
BBC Radio and Education Director James Purnell said: “People turn to us during significant events for our news and analysis but also music, entertainment, and companionship. That was shown when it was announced that local BBC radio would be creating temporary local radio output for new locations in Bradford, Wolverhampton, and Sunderland. The rise in local listening comes down to many factors, with trust being one of them.”
I have been a fan of the radio since a young age, and it’s always been my number one source of trust. Whether my local BBC or listening to LBC, I trust the information I hear more than any other source. This is coupled with two-thirds of listeners to commercial radio saying that they tuned in during the Covid-19 crisis because they trusted the medium; it’s easy to understand why.
It’s not just information on COVID on local BBCs we trust as we can vouch for first hand at Broadcast Revolution. We provide opportunities with spokespeople to talk about various topics and provide a range of guests, including celebrities, local case studies, and experts. Whatever the subject matter, our job is to ensure the story is strong, relevant, and that an audience trusts and believes it.
Local BBCs also offer interview opportunities in their ‘Make a difference’ slot. Every day, every BBC radio station across the UK helps make a difference closer to home. This slot is essential to the local community and is a slot we regularly work with brands to get their coverage on.
It’s not just regional BBC stations bringing the community together – the last 12 months have seen a rise in community radio stations, too. Community radio creates communities, and talk radio invites conversations. There’s something about the human voice, people develop bonds with hosts, which is a considerable factor driving continued listening.
We may watch BBC Breakfast or GMB or listen to 5 Live and LBC more regularly for updates on what is happening in the world, but it’s local radio that provides us with a trusted source of local information that you can’t find anywhere else! And I love it.