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Friends and feelings: the appropriation of Facebook by Irish radio stations to enhance audience engagement through affective media experiencesRadio audiences have become increasingly interested in engaging with radio stations via social network sites (SNS), finding radio station Facebook pages as a source of information, entertainment and as a channel for audience participation. Meanwhile in an attempt to remain viable in an increasingly digital mediascape radio station management have appropriated Facebook and other SNSs to create a broader media experience for their audiences. This has involved moving radio stations beyond simple audio broadcasters to become digital media producers, adding visual and highly interactive dimensions to their arsenal. The adoption of Facebook by the Irish radio industry has been driven by commercial forces with station management engaging with audiences via Facebook to help grow online and on-air audience numbers with the goal of increasing revenue. Using the Irish radio industry as a case study this research found that some radio stations are more adept at engaging with their audiences than others. Those stations that employ the medium effectively are connecting with audiences on an emotional level, evoking feelings and instigating affective communication between users. The focus of this research resides at the nexus of radio industry trends, audience engagement experiences and radio production practices, all of which have changed as a result of the adoption of Facebook and other SNSs by the Irish radio industry. This research involved in-depth analysis of three radio stations including commercial and public service stations broadcasting to local, regional and national audiences. The methodology included analysis of Facebook page content, interviews with industry professionals and an audience survey of N=419 radio listeners/Facebook users. This research forms part of the author’s doctoral thesis which explores the social, economic and cultural implications of Facebook use by Irish radio stations and their audiences.
Opening up the debate: Irish radio, Facebook, and the creation of transnational cultural public spheres.Radio has become an increasingly digitised medium in recent years with a growing online presence becoming ever more integral to the medium’s output and identity. Furthermore, it has become integral to radio stations’ audience recruitment and retention strategies. While radio has long been a platform for on-air public debate and discourse, the limitations of technology always meant that only a limited number of listeners could take part. The largest social network site, Facebook, now provides the infrastructure for public spheres to exist online which means a much wider audience can participate and contribute to discussions and debates including the extensive Irish diaspora – which has grown significantly as a cohort since 2008 due to mass emigration – making it a transnational phenomenon. Using the Irish radio industry and Radio Kerry as a case study this research found that although some instances of traditional Habermasian public spheres exist on radio station Facebook pages, such instances were very limited. Instead audiences are participating in what closely resemble cultural public spheres (McGuigan 2005) where the topics of discussion are of a cultural, social or emotional nature, eschewing debates on current affairs/public issues. This chapter looks at the use of Facebook for audience recruitment and retention from an Irish context and within that is focused on the local commercial radio station Radio Kerry. The methodology included textual analysis of Facebook page content, interviews with industry professionals, an audience survey and one in-depth interview with an audience member.