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Radio – The OTT in Audio Space

For ages, audio has been the only mode of communication among human beings. Our ancestors did not write or read. In fact except humans, all living beings communicate only through audio messaging.

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Whenever we communicate through speech/audio mode, the effect of message is decided not only by the spoken words but also by the pitch, tonality, effect, and speed of the communication. Same word spoken in a different way might have an altogether different meaning and impact because whenever we listen to any sound, a chemical called dopamine, present in our neurons, acts as a neurotransmitter and is released in our brain. It leads to an emotional effect on us, viz., excitement, happiness, fear, tension, anger, love, and so on.

We can relate this with the following fact:

  • We can listen to our favorite song 1000 times but cannot watch our favorite movie more than 2–3 times.
  • A horror movie loses its impact if its sound is muted.
  • A song will not attract us if its sound is muted, even with best of the visuals, but the same song heard, even with closed eyes, will always have an impact on our mood.
  • Any word written on a paper will just have its dictionary meaning but the same word, communicated in different pitch/tonality, may have a completely different impact.

Radio has used this science to further increase efficacy of communication. An RJ is trained to talk keeping in mind that one of his/her listeners is sitting in a chair next to him. Hence, the diction, tonality, pitch of an RJ is such that whenever one listens to any RJ on radio, he feels as if the RJ is talking to him/her directly (mainly due to emotional connect). Hence, the communication skills of an RJ have a strong impact.

Additionally, most of the RJs talk about local issues/topics in local dialect. This further increases interest of the listeners. Thus, radio creates a personal connect with the listeners.

Still, a big chunk of society, mainly millennials, at times do not relate themselves with radio as medium of their entertainment needs. They are hooked to digital platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar, and the like due to their more interesting and effective content.

To cater to this unmet need, lately a few radio stations have got into customized/exclusive content space, similar to originals on OTT platforms. This exclusive content has storytelling format and instead of 1–2 minutes RJ link (a traditional format), these shows have a single link of 10–15 minutes, similar to the content of OTT players, viz., crime/love stories on Amazon or Netflix.

These stories have impactful sound effects, a bit of drama and great oratory skills, giving a theatrical catch hooking the attention of listeners, and leading to good stickiness on radio even among new generation. These shows are catching up with listeners, creating an appointment listenership in radio space. This content creation is the future of radio as a medium and will act as a big differentiator with original content.

Radio is theater of the mind, and non-intrusive in nature, these shows are going to have an impact among listeners. This impact can be much bigger than even OTT and TV shows as these can be heard on the go, or while doing something like driving, reading, doing household chores, or working in shops or on a factory floor.

A combination of good original OTT parallel content and a bouquet of good songs has made and will continue to make radio a personal choice for most of the listeners. Due to this powerful content, personal connect with RJs and real-time engagement with listeners, radio will have a much better and more effective impact on listeners.

All these factors will have radio find a new avatar as a great mass communication medium because of powerful content making it a Netflix of audio communication.

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