Radio reaches over 90% of all South Africans according to the latest Broadcast Research Council RAM release. With this kind of penetration, it would still be somewhat foolish to believe that radio is bulletproof, and a view of the future means that we have to be thinking of the next two quarters as well as the next five years.

Given that the latest PWC Entertainment and Media report says that more than half of all media spend in South Africa will be on digital by 2020, it’s critical that radio evaluates that future and invests now to not only remain relevant to audiences but also to be at the forefront of revenue and digital optimisation.

During the course of 2018, we’ve taken the view at Jacaranda FM that we want to lead this land grab, and have thus been developing tech and user interfaces with our three million strong listening and digital audience.

This includes developments such as international weather curation, exclusively licensed third-party content, 'money can’t buy' events, the creation of an independent podcast platform and the introduction of an online mall.

What these innovations represent is the move to further engaging audiences on multiple platforms and providing value in the relationship with the station.

As the attention economy becomes more diverse, it is critical to find the gaps and opportunities in order to engage audiences based on their needs and prepare them for a long-standing relationship and future with the station.

After a strong needs analysis in the context of a recession, it is clear that audiences are looking for more unique and tailored experiences, ways to spend their money wisely and great content from brands that they trust.

We still see ourselves as the main protagonists of content creation, but also as the first port of call when it comes to providing great curated content for audiences. It’s a case of giving people what they want and need – when they want it.

All of the innovations inside the company have been driven by analysing thousands of pieces of data, which leave a lot of bread crumbs – Hansel and Gretel style. It has been given undivided attention to ensure that there are opportunities to follow the trail and deliver the reward at the end of the path.

In terms of experiences, the quest is on to connect consumers and advertisers in a meaningful way. Based on the fact that there are many offerings for mass participation that doesn't satisfy either party, we have spent countless hours prioritising the development of products that make it possible to get high engagement rates, massive return on investment coupled with multi-channel exposure and tons of shareable content.

We have seen great success to this approach in 2018, and 2019 promises to be a bumper year of – and excuse the word – 'bespoke' spaces.

With the 'technical recession' and the upsurge of online transacting, we have endeavored to give consumers access to retail products at the best possible price with great user experience.

Trusting the brand comes first, and we have naturally established that our consumers are convinced that we are a trustworthy point to share their financial data. With that, we have promised to provide online deals that cannot be beaten in store or online from our tenants anywhere in the country.

The proposition is clear to clients – they can have an online environment to reduce distressed stock or have another channel/outlet for their goods and services that reach millions of people a week.

As more transactions and engagements occur, the trend will be to listen to the radio, and engage digitally for a share of wallet that provides savings and good service in terms of fulfillment.

Curated content means finding the top podcast, video and blog material in the country, and internationally, that will resonate with our audiences. But this is by no means a science; there is a ton of trial and error, which has always been the case with big media.

Consider that television broadcasters have 24 hour a day content, but only a few of their shows are the big drivers of audience and revenue. Our day time shows and music content, as well as news, traffic and infotainment, are all powerful levers, but content from third parties is being added to the mix to build on the content offering.

As we continue to innovate and involve ourselves deeper in the fourth industrial revolution, the next phase of this transition will see virtual reality and augmented reality playing a massive role in 2019. In the meantime, there will be more focus poured on to the outcome of the engagements.

Content builds reputation, trust builds opportunities to transact and the length and breadth of an offering will become wider to drive the consumer in a call to action and provide a space for clients to speak to specific audiences of interest using mobile as the first interface.

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*Image courtesy of Stockio