In our previous blog entries we have repeatedly banged on about local newspapers and the integral role they play within the areas we live. For one, this is due to our interest in local news and information regarding the area in which we live as it helps us to live our lives on a daily basis. Also, local newspapers promote a sense of pride in people for their community which in turn encourages people to act for the benefit and wellbeing of their local area.
In our modern world of internet, smart phones, tablets, social media and 24-hour news, and with the recent decline in high street and local independent shops (everyone remembers the loss we suffered with the demise of Woolworths – most notably the Woolworths pick and mix) it could be said that ‘localness’ is no longer important to people in Britain as the public would rather shop online than pay a visit to their local shopping centre or high street.
However, having access to information and updates about their local area, and being a member of their community is something that is still important to people in the UK. The proof of this is in the number of people who use various channels as a way of keeping informed about local news, in particular local newspapers and radio. According to the News Consumption for the UK 2013 report carried out by Ofcom, four in ten (40%) use newspapers and just over a third (35%) use radio as a source of news.
Radio is still extremely prosperous in our digital world irrespective of the increasing number of online providers, and I would argue despite nine million more UK adults reading a local newspaper than listening to commercial radio that more people listen to their local radio station than read their local newspaper *.
Local radio stations play an important part in people’s communities, raising money for local charities and hosting events, as well as providing listeners with regular and daily news updates. For example, BBC Radio WM reported on 15 September 2014 that ‘five new swimming pools are to be built as part of a £36 million revamp of leisure centres in Birmingham’. Another example, is Heart FM Birmingham who report on local events in the area, such as the ACT Peace Day 2014 event that took place at The REP Theatre in Birmingham on 21 September 2014. This type of local news is valued by people living in the Birmingham area as it concerns their daily lives.
Local radio is often people’s first point of call if they want quick and regular news bulletins. It is also one of the best sources for information concerning traffic, road works or accident updates, and so listeners will often tune into their local radio station if they are travelling to locations in their area and across the UK. As mentioned, according to the News Consumption for the UK 2130 report just over a third of people listen to local radio for local news and information. If truth be told, even here at Syndicate Communications we have our local radio station, Free Radio Birmingham playing throughout the day for the constant and consistent local news reports concerning the area.
Local radio is a good way of achieving large spread coverage as in many areas of the country the most popular radio station is the local one. RAJAR revealed positive numbers in 2013 for many of the nation’s local radio stations with radio listening at its highest since records began in 1999. So it is clear that local media, especially radio is still vastly popular and holds a lot of weight with people in Britain as it is reaching bigger audiences than ever before not only across print, but also online and broadcast channels.
* The Newspaper Society
PR Account Manager