Local Radio is Important

As the Met Office issues a "Red" weather warning for parts of the UK, and I watch pictures come in from all over the UK showing the devastation caused the the #ukstorms, I start to think about how important local radio is at times like this. During the tidal surge last December, I spent the much of the day and night in the Ops room at BBC Radio Humberside. In the hours leading up to the surge, I know some people questioned how important the flow of information to and from local radio stations was, and whether, in a digital age where millions of people are on Twitter and Facebook, whether there was a place for it at all. What happened after that though, was, through the night, a small team of us took thousands of calls from the public and dealt with thousands of messages, tweets and other bits of information. As people sat in the dark, moved their belongings up stairs or sat nervously watching the water levels at flood defenses increase, we collated and relayed essential information, kept them company, and gave them a platform to air their frustrations. People listened from all over the country to keep abreast of the situation around their loved ones, and judging by the calls, emails, tweets and letters in the hours after the event, our efforts were genuinely appreciated. You see, it's not easy to check social media channels when you're moving your belongings up the stairs, and it's impossible when you lose internet connectivity. And then there's the fact that not everyone is on social media - or the internet. With the radio though, you can listen whilst you protect your belongings, information can be passed to thousands or millions of people quickly and at times like this, it brings people together. Whilst it is quick and easy to publish information on the internet, those at most risk, like the elderly are likely to be left behind. On the other hand, almost everybody can tune into the radio for reliable and trustworthy details. So, can the two mediums work together? Of course they can - but the two should compliment each other. Social media is a fantastic tool that can be used by anyone - but it isn't used by everyone, and that's what publishers, businesses and the emergency services should remember. Whatever your campaign or service, it's important to connect with your audience - and this can be done through almost any medium be it digital, print or anything else.


photo credit: EVO GT via photopin cc