Course: Electronic Media Part-I (5627)

Question: Elaborate and explain the potential and limitations of radio broadcasting.      

“Radio station” redirects here. For a broader concept, see Radio communication station.

Radio broadcasting is transmission of audio (sound), sometimes with related metadata, by radio waves to radio receivers belonging to a public audience. In terrestrial radio broadcasting the radio waves are broadcast by a land-based radio station, while in satellite radio the radio waves are broadcast by a satellite in Earth orbit. To receive the content the listener must have a broadcast radio receiver (radio).  Radio offers a variety of features to advertisers and many of the medium’s characteristics seem to be important to advertisers. Of all the mass media, radio is believed to be the most personal medium and offers advantages over other media like selectivity, cost efficiency, flexibility and mental imagery.

  1. Selectivity: Radio offers a high degree of selectivity through geographic coverage by a large number of stations and various programme formats. Advertisers can focus their ad messages on specific audiences who speak different languages in different areas, which otherwise may not be accessible by means of other media.
  2. Cost efficiency: Cost advantages are quite significant with radio as an advertising medium. Radio time costs far less than TV and the commercials are quite inexpensive to produce.
  3. Flexibility: Among all the media, probably radio is the most flexible as it has a short closing period. Radio commercials can usually be produced in a relatively short time and if required, the ad message can be changed almost just before broadcast time. Same ad message can be adjusted in different languages to suit market conditions.
  4. Mental Imagery: Radio advertising uses sound, and a major advantage of this situation is that it encourages audiences to use their imagination in creating images while processing the ad messages.

Disadvantages of Radio Advertising

Like   any other medium, radio too has certain limitations. These include lack of a visual element, audience fragmentation, limited research data, limited listener attention, and clutter. These are important factors and media planners must consider them because radio is not an ideal medium for every type of advertising objective.

  1. Lack of a Visual Element: The most fundamental problem associated with radio is lack of a visual element. The radio advertiser cannot show or demonstrate the product, or make use of any other visual appeal.
  2. Audience Fragmentation: Large number of radio stations create audience fragmentation. The number of audience tuned to any particular station is usually quite small. Advertisers who want to reach broad market areas through radio, with language differences, have to buy time on a number of stations reaching specific geographic areas.
  3. Limited Research Data: The research data on radio is limited compared to other major advertising mediums like televisionnewspapers, and magazines.
  4. Limited Listener Attention: It is difficult to attract and retain radio listeners attention to commercials. Programme switching is frequent among listeners and they often miss all or some of the commercials. Possibilities of distortion in radio broadcast are high and this irritates the listeners – the result commercials are missed.
  5. Clutter: With the increasing intensity of advertising, clutter has become a problem in advertising media, and radio is no exception. Commercial channels carry many ad messages every hour and it is becoming increasingly difficult for ad messages to attract and retain audiences’ attention. Much depends on the precision of script writing, accompanying sounds and level of distortion.

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