The economic, social & cultural impact of the social network site Facebook on the Irish radio industry 2011-2016
AbstractThis thesis explores the relationship between radio and Facebook in Ireland during the period 2011-2016 and the ways in which radio production practices, audience participation and radio as a medium has changed over that time. From 2008, the Irish Radio Industry experienced a steep decline in advertising revenue which would continue for the next 8 years. Initially seen as a possible threat to the still largely analogue medium of radio, social media platforms such as Facebook were quickly adopted by radio stations and turned into tactical instruments to attract and engage audiences. Again, radio proved its resilience and adaptability to change. Although producers for the most part used Facebook creatively and skilfully to gather their audience in online communities, Facebook has unfortunately been found to be presenting some significant issues for the Irish Radio Industry. This thesis employed a multimethod approach to explore the research problem from the perspective of the audience, the producer, and the media texts. This triangulation approach allowed for a comprehensive examination and analysis of the research question and an objective set of findings. The research included interviews with Irish Radio Industry professionals (N=11) as well as direct observation of the presenters’/producers’ daily production routines. An extensive audience questionnaire was disseminated via Facebook and yielded a high response (N=416). Textual analysis of radio station Facebook pages offered insight into the bespoke nature of each station’s output including audience tastes and staff production strategies. A longitudinal content analysis allowed the researcher to measure the growth of radio station Facebook and Twitter followers over a two-and-a-half year period. This research highlights the importance of Facebook for radio stations in Ireland as an audio-visual tool to reach new young audiences who have grown up in the digital age, although it does expand the producers’ remit. I argue that radio stations can accumulate social, cultural and symbolic capital through Facebook, and in some instances, economic capital. This thesis highlights the changes that are representative of convergence culture where the audience play a much more active role in media production and dissemination, but their ‘play labour’ is simultaneously being commodified and profited from by Facebook and Google. This research offers case studies which include some best practice in terms of social media management and will therefore inform radio production teaching in higher education. Based on the research I propose that Irish radio needs to act fast while the industry is still afloat and engage in collaboration between commercial and public service radio, regulation of online advertisers and social network sites (SNSs) and innovation to engage further with digital media and find new revenue streams. Should action not be taken I predict the conglomeration of the commercial sector of the Irish Radio Industry and with it the loss of valuable and trusted public services from local communities.
CitationMcMahon, D. (2019) 'The economic, social & cultural impact of the social network site Facebook on the Irish radio industry 2011-2016' Unpublished PhD thesis. University of Derby.
PublisherUniversity of Derby
TypeThesis or dissertation
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With a little help from my friends: The Irish radio industry's strategic appropriation of social network sites for commercial growth.McMahon, Daithi; University of Derby (IGI Global, 2017)Ireland has faced significant economic hardship since 2008, with the Irish radio industry suffering as advertising revenues evaporated. The difficult economic circumstances have forced radio station management to devise new and cost effective ways of generating much-needed income. The answer has come in the form of Facebook, the leading Social Network Site (SNS) in Ireland. Using Ireland as a case study, this chapter looks at how radio station management are utilising the social network strategically in a bid to enhance their audiences and revenues. Radio station management consider Facebook to be an invaluable promotional tool which is very easily integrated into radio programming and gives radio a digital online presence, reaching far greater audiences than possible through broadcasting. Some radio stations are showing ambition and are realising the marketing potential that Facebook and other SNSs hold. However, key changes in practice, technology and human resources are required to maximise the profit-making possibilities offered by Facebook.
William Melville: The Queen's detective.McMahon, Daithi; O'Connor, Fred; University of Derby (Radio Kerry, 2014-05)In this classic detective drama, set in the summer of 1889, Melville’s skills are put to the test as he is assigned to protect the visiting Shah of Persia as Fenian anarchists aim assassinating the royal guest. This drama is based on actual events and creates an intriguing insight into the world of political intrigue, criminality, and espionage that would have existed in late Victorian London. The drama was produced for the audience in county Kerry where William Melville was from and was intended to educate and entertain the listeners young and old about one of the county's most decorated sons.
Radio 2.0: How Facebook is enhancing audience participation for Irish radio audiences.McMahon, Daithi; University of Limerick (Academic Conferences and Publishing International, 2014-07)As a traditional mass medium radio is proving its flexibility and resilience in an ever more digitalised mediascape by increasing its presence on one of the fastest growing digital platforms, Facebook. With the radio industry in Ireland as a case study, this project examines the use of Facebook by radio producers and their audiences as a medium for deeper interaction and explores the functions this contact serves for the audience member, for the radio producer, and for society as a whole. Based on recent findings, this doctoral research argues that radio producers are increasingly engaging with their audiences through Facebook for commercial reasons, in an effort to build audience loyalty and grow their audience share in a highly competitive industry. Radio audiences are following their favourite radio programmes on Facebook in growing numbers seeking an enhanced media experience and opportunities to exercise their agency as active audiences and participate in the on-air and online conversations. Furthermore, the evidence suggests that public spheres and virtual communities are created on radio station Facebook pages and that some users build social capital between one another through extended interaction. The convergence of radio with Facebook is thus allowing an old medium to remain competitive at a time when digital media is threatening the traditional mass media.The methodology involves both qualitative and quantitative research methods including interviews with radio producers and audience members combined with a survey of the latter, textual analysis of radio station Facebook pages and a longitudinal content analysis of Facebook interactivity across the Irish radio industry. The project is nearing completion and therefore this paper will present the main findings that demonstrate the capacity of radio as a medium to engage with and profit from the introduction of new digital technologies, particularly Facebook.