Audience Dialogue

Participative Marketing for Local Radio: Introduction

In different parts of the world, local radio is known by different names: community radio, public radio, free radio, access radio, alternative radio, low-power FM, popular radio, local public service radio, independent local radio - and more names still. What all these stations, both commercial and non-commercial, have in common is that they serve a small area. It's all local radio.

If your station is part of a network, you won't need this book: instead, you'll have a marketing department. Nor will this book be very useful for international shortwave stations, or internet-only stations. As I've tried to cover all aspects of local radio marketing, some chapters won't apply to some stations.

The book was sparked off by Said Ibrahim, the newly appointed marketing manager for Radio Republik Indonesia, in Riau province. He asked me to recommend some reading on marketing for public service radio. I searched the Web, was surprised to find nothing relevant, so then I searched for a book. Again (to my surprise) I found nothing relevant. In the end, it seemed easier to start writing than to keep searching. Though I'm far from being the world's foremost expert on radio marketing, I've been involved with radio and marketing for more than 20 years, in a wide range of roles.

I've kept the book deliberately short: it's a source of ideas and principles rather than a step-by-step "how to do it" manual. Thus I haven't covered the techniques of radio production, copywriting, financial control, managing staff, dealing with clients, and managing databases. Though all of these practical skills are necessary for successful marketing, it's easier to learn them from other people than from a book.

Several books that could have been written on this topic. Some other possible books (exaggerating the titles to make their biases clear) would be:

This book is nothing like any of those. As you read through it, my values will become clear. I don't claim to be unbiased: I favour the small and decentralized over the large and centralized, sustainability over profit-taking, the long term view over the short, and local distinctiveness over global homogenization. (That's why I've focused on community radio, not network radio.)

I've tried to make this book applicable to radio in a wide range of countries - both emerging economies and developed Western ones. As English will not be the native language of many readers, I have tried to write as clearly and simply as possible.

This is the first edition. I expect to steadily improve this book over the next few years. So if you have any suggestions or criticisms, I'd be pleased to hear them...

The easiest way to contact me is by email.

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