Is there a need for revamp of the radio advertising segment in Malaysia?

Most Malaysians tune in to the radio throughout the day. As at 2015, there are in total 61 radio stations in Malaysia bringing entertainment, music and all sort of information on a daily basis.

High percentage of listeners of radio in Malaysia

Malaysians like listening to the radio as they are more neutral as compared to the likes of newspapers and television. While television and newspaper has reduced viewer and readership despite maintaining their popularity, radio has a steady and very stable number of listeners.

Most common times when radio is tuned in

In total, radio reaches about 90% of Malaysians every day particularly among those aged 10 and above. Indexes show that Malaysians listen to the radio mostly:

  • In the morning between 6.00am and 10.00am when they travel to work – in cars and those on their mobile devices on public transport
  • In the evenings when they leave the office which are in the same places too

Constant innovation from radio stations

This scenario puts a lot of pressure on the radio stations because they need to constantly innovate and reinvent themselves to stay relevant. The last thing any radio station wants is to bore its listeners with the same programme and jokes made by the deejays. This is because the morning and evening listeners want something ‘fresh’ each time they tune in. They do not want to listen to boring programmes or those that will remind them of work.

There was a time when the popular duo of Fly Guy and Lil Kev were the best morning programmes among all other stations. But this was when there was Time Highway Radio which was before Astro (through AMP Radio Networks) came into the scene and revamped the entire market.
Later on, Lil Kev has been brought back with Red FM (which belongs to The Star) which shows that stations have been trying to innovate and stay relevant to the listeners.

AMP, owned by Astro has given radio advertising a whole new dimension through its format radio services where there are very specific target audience for each station. Since it was launched, AMP has grown by leaps and bounds. According to Nielsen Radio Audience Measurement, Sweep 2, 2011 AMP Radio Networks’ channels collectively bring about 11.65 million listeners each week. This is an extremely large number for any media today.

English Radio leading the way

There are at least 5 English Language radio stations which are competing with each other in one way or another every day. Hitz.FM, Mix FM and Lite FM are operated by AMP while Red FM and Fly FM are operated by other media owners.

This means that a person driving to work will have 5 choices of who to listen to in the morning. The minute one station gets boring; this person will switch to another station. Pranks and jokes have been made over and over again. The same pranks cannot and must not be repeated or they will become too monotonous and then lose their listeners’ interests.

Stations must focus on the listener

The most important thing about radio advertising is the listener. No radio station can firmly state that they have a certain number of listeners who tune in to their stations each morning without fail. Radio advertising is challenging because once they lose the audience for a session, the time has passed.

Therefore, it is imperative that radio stations reinvent themselves all the time. Programmes need to be changed, fine-tuned and altered to continuously excite the listener, keeping them tuned in so that they remain relevant to everyone.

Influencing factors for stations to change

The factors that would influence the revamp of radio stations include:

  • Spontaneous – like a ‘win a car’ contest which was derived out of the blue and was not planned
  • Engaging – like a true ghost story that was told by a prominent figure like a celebrity
  • Exciting – topics that are interesting (controversial with moderation)
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