Radio is a flexible medium reaching a wide cross-section of the public throughout the day and often provides the opportunity of talking directly to a target audience. The corporation has a specific policy code regulating decisions on business news. Material undertaking news of commercial value can be broadcast if the general news value exceeds the publicity value. South Africa has 19 radio stations attracting some 20 million listeners daily. Radio News has editorial offices in all major cities of South Africa and a wide network of local and international correspondents.
In general, radio interviews are normally three minutes long so being brief is important. A planned approach in contacting the programme editor by either e-mail, fax or telephone will usually elicit interest and result in a visit to the studio. Companies are normally advised on how to handle crisis such as fires or strikes. The most common mistake a manager can make is to bring the wrong person into the studio for an interview. If someone is a successful business person this doesn’t necessarily mean he/she is a good communicator. A public relations practitioner or someone of lesser rank who can communicate well would be a preferred choice as the company’s spokesperson.
Preparation is essential as studio time is strictly allocated. Contact times and programme scheduling need to be carefully watched to ensure suitability. The formula for success as in print media is to know the needs of the programme editor, develop the right personal contacts, and to produce the goods when required.
The advantages of radio include:
• It often provides companionship and creates intimacy with the listener
• Its flexible because of its many set-ups
• It is portable and accessible in many places due to its transistor
• It has targeted stations with targeted publics
• In South Africa, it has been an effective way of reaching different ethnic groups
• It is more cost-effective and practical to produce a radio programme in the appropriate language than to publish vernacular newspapers which people may or may not be able to read.
The disadvantages of radio include:
• Although the message is repeated several times, it is often short-lived
• Radio listeners have the tendency to switch from one station to another possibly missing certain messages
• Radio messages tend to be brief and often incomplete