CAF America Insider Blog

The Sound of Resurgence: Radio 2.0

Apparently, just like karma or fashion, radio has come and gone and is now back again. With the advent of television and the internet, it seemed like the platform that brought us FDR’s fire-side chats, Radio-Free Europe, emergency broadcast systems, and allowed music to transcend borders, would end up disappearing into history. As World Radio Day approaches on February 13th, we took some time to look into what’s new in the world of radio and how the medium may be in its most influential period yet.

Within the past year or so, radio and its hip cousin — podcasts — have made a resurgence. The reasons for this? As ironic as it sounds, advances in technology have actually brought radio back to life. Some credit the capability to carry all of your music on a small device (read: the first iPod in 2001, also where ‘pod’cast got its name), while others point to advances in satellite radio services such as Sirius, and still others say that this rebirth was content-driven — citing unique and genre-pushing programs like “This American Life” by NPR.

Its origins notwithstanding, podcasts have taken on a new life and have become one of the fastest growing mediums in entertainment with 17% of Americans saying they listened to a podcast in the last month (up from 12% in 2010). Beyond their entertainment value, podcasts represent the avenue of choice for individuals looking to streamline the information they want to keep up to date with, in a simple and effective to use format.

Perhaps most noteworthy though, is the podcast audience itself. While evenly split between the genders, podcast consumers are generally more affluent and are more highly educated compared to the general population with 36% of podcast consumers making above $75,000 (versus 25% of the general population) and 31% of these listeners that have advanced or graduate degrees (versus 20% of the general population). This data shows that not only is this platform worthy of everyone’s attention, but it represents an important demographic that companies and nonprofits will want to reach.

Hence, here we are today. Not only have podcasts transcended borders and languages, they’ve blurred the concept of what we might consider entertaining, and many have successfully managed to be both simultaneously educational and entertaining. You can now find podcasts on endangered wildlife, the stock market, self-help tips, food science, or philanthropy.

Philanthropy and the charitable sector have quickly embraced this growing medium, with dozens of charities, foundations, family offices, and other nonprofits having their own shows. Podcasts offer a unique platform for the charitable sector as they are often cost-effective and can be very powerful tools for storytelling and communicating. For charities, it can be a method of connecting with donors and an outlet to raise awareness about the wonderful work that grassroots nonprofits do across the world.

This World Radio Day, we shouldn’t be surprised that the platform is still so present in our lives — it serves a very basic but necessary function —  to share our voices and to foster connections in a way that the world has never seen before…let’s hope it continues to stick around.

CAF America’s own radio program has been around since 2012 and features prominent leaders in the philanthropic sector discussing best practices, challenges and trends in international giving.

The CAF America Radio Network has recently been selected as a finalist in PR News’ 2016 Nonprofit PR Awards in the category of Video and/or Podcast Program.

Check out UNESCO’s infographic on World Radio Day 2016!



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