Salford City Radio 94.4FM
The Adam Brown Show – live every Sunday between 1-2pm
Nowadays, it seems that just about everyone is writing on SuperWalls, throwing synthetic snowballs, or drinking virtual cocktails. If you’re not tweeting or updating your status, you will almost certainly be uploading pictures or passing comment on somebody else’s. With an intense increase in the prevalence of such online interactivity, social media is fast becoming a tool which can not only be utilised for our own entertainment; but also as a platform from which communication with a multitude of people worldwide can be achieved. From playing a part in Government petitions to Presidential elections, social media in general has developed into a functional and powerful way to correspond. Community radio is a sector which can benefit greatly from what social media has to offer.
Firstly, it is perhaps pertinent to identify the key players in what has become a global phenomenon. Social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace are now amongst the most popular pages in the world, each boasting millions of users.
As someone who is involved in community radio at Salford City Radio, it is accurate to imply that one of the most difficult aspects of preparation is to create and implement successful promotion for your own individual show. Since going live in September 2007, I have used social networking websites as my primary source of promotion. The website I have used most frequently is Facebook. What Facebook allows you to do as a community radio volunteer is too beneficial to simply disregard. By setting up a group for your show on Facebook, you are instantaneously presented by what is fundamentally a free promotional device. Through the group for my show, I am able to invite my Facebook friends to join, as well as sending out weekly messages, detailing what each show will entail. This way, members of the group are able to get an insight into what you intend to cover as well as being given a gentle reminder as to the exact time that you are on air. Websites such as Twitter also allow for direct interaction with the audience, with responses to the content of your show being able to be posted online in seconds.
Even more immediate is the level of interaction available through instant messaging. Whilst at times listeners may elect not to email, text or ring into the studio, having the option to communicate directly through the computer is often an attractive alternative. Whether this is done through Facebook Chat, or via an instant messaging programme such as MSN Messenger, they are both equally as effective.
Podcasts are emerging as an exceedingly apt way to quench what has become a seemingly avid requirement for media on-demand. In the digital age, where people can essentially construct their own visual and audio media schedules, producing a podcast of your show is undeniably a fantastic means to opening up a whole new potential audience, who are then able to listen to your output. I have produced what I refer to as a ‘supplementary’ podcast, in which I cover anything which I could not fit into my own show. The podcast can be found on iTunes simply through typing the name of the show into the search bar. Once a listener ‘subscribes’ to your podcast (which is free to do), each new podcast that you upload, be it weekly or monthly, will be automatically downloaded by each and every one of your ‘subscribers,’ through iTunes. There are, however, some prospective drawbacks when it comes to making your podcast public. At the moment, there are issues surrounding copyrighted music, meaning that any tracks that have already been published (i.e. popular, released music played from CD or through a system such as Myriad) are not able to be part of your podcast. Therefore, depending on they type of podcast you want to produce, the music which can be included is vastly limited. Irregardless of this, podcasting is a very contemporary type of media, the popularity of which is constantly rising.
Finally, with the arrival or these technological advancements, the methodologies assumed by community radio stations and more explicitly their volunteers, must be reflective of the ways in which people now consume their media. Although people are at different levels in terms of knowledge and abilities with computers and the Internet, most elements of social media are fairly straightforward and become easier in time. Whilst a few brief training sessions may be required for volunteers who feel they could initially struggle with the technical side of these methods (i.e. setting up accounts, creating groups), the end product would be extremely worthwhile. Social media has swept through the world in its various forms, making waves in terms of the ways in which we respond as individuals to media in general. The waves being made are ones on which community radio can develop, grow and prosper.