Last Monday (13/01/2014) marked the hand-in date for my Creative Industries Professional Practice essay so this blog is going to focus on some of the things I found out. Having a totally open essay like this can sometimes be slightly daunting. We were given free rein to come up with the area of study and question. The only ‘rules’ were that it had to be around 1,500 words long and we should make contact with people in the industry we were discussing as part of the research. I thought for a long time about the question I was going to do. I knew I wanted to do about TV or Radio or even both but didn’t come up with much. Just before the Christmas holidays, it came to me. For my TV broadcast major module, I had looked into the way the Internet and social networking has affected the way audiences are consuming TV so I flipped this around and looked into the same topic focused on Radio. The exact question:

“Discuss the impact of the Internet and social networking on the way listeners consume Radio”

This initial question changed slightly, looking more at BBC radio stations and not radio stations in general. This was down to the outcome of my research over anything else. The BBC has always been the forerunner in radio innovation (primarily due to the amount of money they have to invest). After 90 years to develop a place in the industry you’d expect them to be as big as they are. One of the biggest thing is that they’re the only big radio network to have a substantial on-demand service, BBC iPlayer, which has well over 60 million requests a month for radio shows alone!

The BBC has also been making attempts to engage the audience in ways never really attempted before. Services like BBC Playlister which was announced last year allows listeners to tag songs and create a playlist from BBC Radio sites. These can be exported into additional services like Spotify that would normally be considered a competitor to the BBC’s output. The Internet has created a change in how audiences consume content with a more ‘I want it all now’ attitude being generated thanks to the on-demand society used to the instant nature of DVD’s, iTunes and YouTube.

To find out more about the Internet and social media at the BBC, I contacted Danny Cox (You can follow him on twitter at: @DannyCoxLive). He’s a DJ that I’ve listened to for years, ever since he worked on former Oxford station Fox FM (I still remember the frequency and phone number!), through to his shows on BBC Radio Oxford. He now moves around in the BBC’s output (mainly from Broadcasting House by the look of his Twitter photos) popping up on various different stations. One of the most interesting things he told me was regarding social networking at a lot of the BBCs stations and how it’s becoming less about audience numbers and more about the level of interaction online. He said:

“Traditionally radio stations used to rely on calls or letters for interaction (many people choosing letters to avoid a live phone call) Now not only can listeners contact stations via Twitter, Facebook and email, they can start conversations about content themselves via Facebook. In fact BBC radio stations are not only measured for the audiences but also now for their interaction levels. The benefit of this is instant communication for a station with its listeners and listeners in return feel much more connected with their favourite station.”

Something else that he mentioned that I hadn’t really thought about was how internet and especially apps break down the geographical issues that come with FM and DAB. As soon as your outside the broadcast range you can’t listen. This isn’t an issue when it comes to listening online. You can be in another country and still listen to the smallest local radio station. Whilst this is a massive advantage to any listener, it’s not necessarily so much for the BBC and other broadcasters. More competition can come from around the world, not within british shores.

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