Traditional Radio v. Internet Radio

The Battle Between Traditional Radio and Internet Radio in Urban Communities

Traditional radio has been around for a very long time as the number one platform for listening to music. Today, traditional radio competes with many forms of entertainment, for example, television, the Internet, iPods, MP3’s, etc. Technology over the years has grown drastically, allowing radio to grow rapidly. Today, radio can heard over the Internet, on your phone, a tablet, iPod, etc. All of these changes have caused a shift in the listener’s preferences for accessing music. Research conducted by Statista shows the increase in volume for Internet radio listeners from 2010 up to 2018.


After surveying people on their thoughts about radio, there was a lot to learn. The results showed that 28.36% of people prefer traditional radio and 22.39% prefer Internet radio, while 47.76% prefer both and 1.49% do not have a preference. Surprisingly traditional radio was preferred over Internet radio, yet most people enjoy the best of both worlds. People were questioned why people listen to radio and 47.76% people said for music. With the rise in alternative and digital radio platforms, radio is more than just a source of listening to music. Listeners enjoy radio for a variety of reasons including social news, politics, sports talk, and radio personalities in addition to listening to music.

which do you prefer

In Germany there was research done on what do users expect from listening to Web radio as an interactive medium and what are the gratifications sought when tuning in to Web radio in comparison to offline radio? This is impressive because they have been going through the same changes as we have been in the US. During their research, they surveyed people between the ages of 14 and 80, however 70 percent of them fell between the ages 14 to 29. When they asked the group how often they listen to radio on the Internet, 14 percent said daily, 32 percent said several times once a week, 13 percent said several times a month, 18 percent said once a month or less. This gives credibility to how Internet radio has become a major competitor with traditional radio; however, it also let us know that traditional radio is not going anywhere.

(Stark & Weichselbaum, 2013)

Another study that was done called “Doubt is in the Air” believes from a business aspect Internet radio could possibly one day take over. They mention how when you are listening to the radio over the Internet you have more options. You can control your content and entertain yourself your way. However, both are one and one, because if the Internet was to have an issue and not be working you would turn to traditional radio for listening; i.e. news, music, entertainment. Therefore, they have doubts, but as of today traditional radio still exist.

(Baltzis & Barboutis, 2013)

why you listen and how often

After viewing responses from the survey, it is apparent that longtime listeners of traditional radio and those that work in the traditional radio broadcasting field have noticed the decline in traditional radio’s popularity. A comment from an anonymous respondent is further proof that listeners are aware of the decline of traditional radio. The respondent stated, “I’m slightly biased because I’m a radio host. Radio is currently in crisis mode since the industry got too comfortable and focused on short term profits as digital formats crept up, but smarter program directors are figuring out that local content and not-so-strict formatting are what listeners want, since they can listen to national music anywhere and anytime on their own terms. As long as radios are put in cars and listening is free, the industry will never die completely, but expect radio as a whole to change over the next 5-10 years as we figure out how to win listeners back.” The question that people want the answer to the most is what is traditional radio going to do to keep up with the high-rise of Internet radio. Personally, I feel as though traditional radio can eventually rise back up again, however, the hard part is how will they do so, which still remains unanswered.

There is a large toss up on how traditional radio is not in comparison to Internet radio.  Some believe that any type of interactive sound over the Internet is radio.  An article called “Remediating radio: Audio streaming, music recommendation and the discourse of radioness” explains the differences. It goes into depth on how Internet radio is radio and why. A quote from Chris Priestman states, “his view of intentionality is, however, a function of his perception of radio as ‘human communication’, where one senses that the voice of an announcer creating the threads between various other broadcast elements becomes a key point: [The ‘automated web jukebox’ constitutes a] contradictory phenomenon to define in radio terms, since it is quite clearly an extension of music format radio, but, in doing away with any form of presenter or news or indeed any kind of radio studio at all, it removes the essential element of broadcast communication: one human person talking directly to another or sharing with them some form of entertainment. (Priestman, 2002: Chap. 2).”

(Freire, 2007)

After an interview with Sharon Kay, General Manager of WFSK, the first African American FM Radio Station in Nashville, TN, she walked through the changes of radio over time. She mentioned how she has witnessed over time the digital age becoming increasingly powerful. Ms. Kay began her career in radio in the late 1970’s and has been doing so non stop every since. She is currently an executive board member of the TN. Radio Hall of Fame, serves as a commissioner with the Metro Human Rights Commission, and is a member of the Nashville Chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ). Ms. Kay feels as though Internet radio and traditional radio have no comparisons. She believes they are not comparable because they are two completely different things.  She makes it clear that Internet radio is just sound and traditional radio is more personal. Traditional radio will always remain in its place and she firmly believes that.

In another, interview with Radio Personality for 101.1, The Beat in Nashville, Tennessee WUBT, Zachary “Zach Boog” Joyner, a native of Gary, Indiana, he expresses his thoughts on radio as well. Starting out as an intern 5 years ago in 2010, Boog knew he loved the radio industry and was going to work his way up to the top. Currently, he is a full time employee of ClearChannel. He believes that radio will also never cease to exist because of its personal connection with audiences. Joyner mentions how he never knew how much syndication was in radio until he started working in an actual studio. He enjoys Internet radio and loves how he can be specific to a certain genre and/or artist whenever he likes. However, he does mention in the end of his interview how working in the field of radio is not something you can get into for easily, it is competitive.  In addition, if you are looking to graduate and go straight to making big bucks this field is not for you. You have to work and grow to start making real money.

In an article for new opportunities, it mentions that becoming involved in the world of media is not an easy job to get into. This article called “Radio on the Internet: Opportunities for New Public Spheres?” questions if producing an Internet radio show could build a relationship with its audience. It also goes on to mention people becoming more involved in Internet radio to use as an advantage of having your own show because getting a job in the real world is not easy. So with that said if you have little experience you can gain it yourself.

(McEwan, 2010)

Brenda Hull, Brand Strategist for Steed Media Group, believes that “traditional radio talk too much and some of the air personalities feel they know all the answers.” For the most part, she listens to Internet radio. She stated that “when I can drive for 15 minutes and the traditional radio talks the whole time it’s a problem,” believing that Internet radio could eventually become more prominent than traditional radio. She believes that all media will have to make changes for the future with the on going growth in technology.

Omar “DJ O” El-Amin, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, opens up about his views of the radio industry. DJ O started out as a programming intern for WKKV-FM (V100.7), aClearChannel owned radio broadcasting station, in 2002. He wanted to work in radio because he loves music and is passionate about it. The desire came at a young age when he was 13 years old. Later that year he had the opportunity to a position and he accepted and was now the programming assistant, he would put shows in the system and produce some shows.  Then, in 2004 he became a promotion assistant, handling promotions for the radio station. During that time, he also was a weekly feature on the radio as a disc jockey mixing music, which he continues to do today. In 2009, he became the marketing and promotion coordinator for not only WKKV-FM, but also for WISN-AM, and WOKY-AMClearChannel owned radio broadcasting stations. Today he holds the title of the In-Game Sound Engineer and Music Programmer for the Milwaukee Bucks and he remains on the air weekly with WKKV-FM mixing music.

Radio has come a long way from the discovery of radio waves in 1887, by German Scientist, Heinrich Hertz. There has been a major transition since then. Now with the drastic growth of technology traditional radio can be heard anywhere via computer, a cellular device, a tablet, MP3, etc. At one point Radio was the number entertainment in homes, “before television, stories were acted out on the radio. The actors read their lines into microphones in a radio studio”(1) and “families would sit together around the radio everyday.” (1) After going over the transition of Radio with DJ O, he feels that Radio is facing challenges that it has never seen before with technology and media. “Technology has desensitized the public as far as for the value of radio,” Stated DJ O, “Radio still has a place, however, it is not the same as it use to be.” Now with radio being heard anywhere it makes it harder for traditional radio to be what it used to be because of syndication.  DJ O defines syndication in Radio as “when one person or one company broadcast the same show in multiple markets.” He feels that, “Radio is more commercialized and has lost its nitch.”  It may be hard but Traditional Radio has to find a place to remain relevant, DJ O mentioned how “it may not be as relevant to people any more but there will always be a place for radio.”

(Pelusey & Pelusey, 2006)

In the book Media Today, it speaks on every type of media, there is. When they speak on radio, they bring up the fact that radio is definitely having issues with the rise of technology. It states, “Once again, radio executives stand between an old and new world. They have a lot invested in traditional broadcast radio, but their audiences are declining. So they are trying to understand how to adapt to, and compete with, the new technologies.” This is true and traditional radio will continue to compete and have to find ideas to remain relevant.

(Turow, 2011)

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