January, 30 2024

Radio still rules the waves, prompting universities to make it a key component of mass communication programs

Nearly 8 million people listen to UAE radio stations every week, representing a 97% national reach.

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Nearly 8 million people listen to UAE radio stations every week, representing a 97% national reach.

In the new age of podcasts and audio streaming, radio remains a popular medium in the UAE, with one study revealing that about 8 million listeners tune in to radio stations in the UAE every week, representing a 97 per cent national reach.

According to a 2021 study by Nielsen Data Research, listeners of all ages tune in to the radio nearly 8 hours every week, with 70% of listening at home, 20% while traveling, and 10% at school or college. Interestingly, 85% listen to the radio online, mobile apps and the web.

The enduring popularity of radio across the UAE has prompted universities to offer specialized programs in mass communication with a traditional focus on radio broadcasting. The American University of Ras Al Khaimah (AURAK) has adopted a unique approach in which radio is not just a legacy medium; it has been reimagined and revitalized as a multimodal platform. The curriculum goes beyond traditional broadcasting, integrating new media technologies and dynamic content creation strategies to provide a comprehensive, modern learning experience in radio communication.

“In the evolving mass communication world, radio continues to hold sway over people all over the world, more so in the UAE, where a large and diverse expatriate population has given rise to niche radio channels,” said Prof. Stephen Wilhite, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Student Success/ Provost, AURAK. “The format of radio programs has changed over the years, making it necessary for aspiring radio professionals to learn new skills in digital technologies. In this scenario, AURAK offers one of the most comprehensive mass communications bachelor programs, incorporating intensive radio-specific elements.”

The AURAK Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication has been meticulously designed to offer a comprehensive education in radio, segmented into three core areas. First, the production aspect delves into the technical intricacies of radio broadcasting, covering skills in recording, mixing, and overall sound production. Second, the focus on content creation equips students with the expertise in programming, news and journalism, fostering talents in areas like being a Radio Jockey (RJ) and on-air presentation. Finally, the marketing & promotions component immerses students in the creative process of advertising, teaching them to craft compelling scripts for commercials and develop effective marketing strategies.

Through this structured approach, the program prepares students for a wide range of career opportunities in the radio industry. Graduates can aspire to roles such as DJ/presenter, radio producer, broadcast journalist, program director, copywriter, and specialists in sales, advertising, marketing, and promotions. Each career path reflects the diverse skill sets honed through our dedicated segments of radio education, ensuring our students are well-prepared for the dynamic landscape of broadcast media.

In the crowded media space, radio still holds many advantages. It offers the ability to reach a highly targeted audience and address a specific demographic. Radio advertising is relatively inexpensive, ideally suited for small businesses or startups that have a limited marketing budget.

During the first quarter of 2021, according to the study, 7.82 million people in the UAE tuned in every week to listen to the radio. These listeners spent an average of 7 hours and 28 minutes each week on the radio.

Radio manages to reach a diverse audience, both in terms of nationality and age group. The study found that the youngest listeners range from 10 years and above, and they spend on an average of 6 hours and 12 minutes per week listening to the radio. People in the age group of 25-34 years spend 7 hours and 44 minutes weekly.

The Nielson study also offered some other interesting statistics about radio in the UAE. Over 1 million UAE residents aged 35+ listen online each week. Over 427,000 UAE residents turn on the radio every 15 minutes. More than 85% of the UAE’s population listen to UAE radio online, or through mobile apps, websites, or smart speakers and 15% listen on FM.

“The focus of our Bachelor of Mass Communication is to produce well-rounded and versatile digital media professionals, of which radio is a key component,” said Prof. Hariclea Zengos, Dean of the School of Arts & Sciences, AURAK. “The program offers critical tools needed to carve a niche for oneself in the expanding field of mass communication.”

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