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Radio creates virtual neighborhoods

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Want to be in touch with the hottest technology available today? Turn on your radio.

This is what Mary Beth Garber, president of the Southern California Broad­casters Association, said.

Garber presented the latest facts and figures to Professor Louis Chelekis’ Media Sales class regarding radio and its prominent effect in Southern California.

“Radio is the most accessible medium in our lives,” Garber said.

With a remote in hand, Garber presented her bright and colorful PowerPoint presentation, full of statistics.

Students sat in awe, learning that Southern Californian’s drive 266 million miles every day in the metro Los Angeles area.

“There are three sure things in life,” Garber said. “Death, taxes and traffic.”

But this is good news for radio; when people are miserable being stuck in traffic, radio is there to comfort them, offering the latest music, traffic, weather, news, sports, entertainment and other endless information. Oh, and this service is free.

Consumers spend hundreds of dollars on cell phones and iPods, which could inevitably become obsolete.

“iPod fatigue is growing,” Garber said, before sharing that 85 percent of iTunes buyers first heard their music on the radio.

She also said that the No. 1 selling iPod accessory is the FM radio receiver.

One fact remains: radio is always changing because it is one of the few technologies connected with fresh, relevant information, including new music.

“It was interesting to learn that an old technology like radio remains so prevalent in our world of ever-changing technologies today,” Maxtla Benavides, senior public relations major, said.

One of the primary concepts Garber presented was that radio creates virtual neighborhoods.

With the success of networking Web sites like MySpace and Facebook, Garber understands that people constantly yearn to be connected.

She presented that on a daily basis, radio and the Internet together reach 83 percent of the 18-to-54-year-old population.

Radio is the one way people stay connected in a society that suffers from time-poverty.

Garber described time-poverty as “lack of control of time.”

Thanks to traffic and hectic lifestyles, Southern Californians have little control over their time.

A recent study shows that 74 percent of working women do not know what is for dinner.

While this statistic may seem overly dramatic, it reveals just how fast-paced our society has become.

How do Southern Californ­ians cope with this loss of time?

They are comforted by smart advertisers who know their needs and wants.

“Radio is an engagement platform,” Garber said. “It connects with consumers at very high emotional levels.”

Only in radio does 92 percent of the audience stay tuned during commercials, according to Arbitron, a radio audience research company.

Radio seems to be invincible today, but will there ever be a technology to top it?

“A medium that has a live dialogue with a person in an environment that doesn’t change just might kill radio,” Garber said. Until then, it looks like radio’s future is bright.

Radio Ink Magazine ranked Garber, a 38-year industry veteran, No. 10 on its “50 Most Influential Women in Radio 2008” list in June. She worked with CBS and ABC radio stations as well as Walt Disney Studios before becoming President of SCBA in 1998.

“She has experience, knowledge and a reputation and is a privilege to have on campus,” Mike Laponis, professor of communications, said.

“We were all honored and privileged to have a speaker with an illustrious career in the radio industry like Mary Beth on campus,” Chelekis said. “I’ve known Mary Beth for almost 20 years and I respect her and hope she can continue making presentations to ULV students in the Media Sales class annually.”

Mark Vidal can be reached at mark.vidal@laverne.edu.

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