Malaysia - nowhere is radio more popular
Sunday 30 October, 2016
James at BFM
Radio Tomorrow with James Cridland
I was in Malaysia last week.
Some interesting facts about Malaysian audiences:
25% of people in Malaysia are Chinese-speakers. So, it turns out that Chinese-language radio is pretty popular.
25% of people in Malaysia are English-speakers. Go through the FM dial and you’ll find lots of English-speaking radio stations: in a taxi, I listened to Astro’s “Lite FM”, a kind of relaxing AC station: one with a fearsome amount of travel news and a presenter who was quite keen to play short YouTube clips of the recent Coachella concert.
I went to BFM, an English-speaking business radio station. The station has a variety of business-orientated programming, including The Breakfast Grille, an hour-long morning interview with a business leader or a politician. It does really well - partly, I suspect, because of the dreadful traffic in Kuala-Lumpur, but also partly because long-form interviews, when done well, are a revealing and excellent listen. BFM is the type of radio station I love being at - a one-floor, compact little station where everyone knows everyone else.
Then, the reason I was there - the Commercial Radio Malaysia conference, revealing the latest audience figures to ad planners and marketers. Some of these figures were simply astonishing: the US gets excited about its “93% of people tune in every week” figure, but in Peninsular Malaysia that figure’s an even more impressive 97.2%. Indeed, it’s one of the highest figures in the world. Of interest to me: the average number of stations listened-to in Malaysia is just two - that figure’s over 4 in the UK, for example, and probably means stations don’t overlap with each other too much. I then spoke a lot about how radio is changing across the world, and people laughed at the right places and it was all a positive experience.
The next day, I held a a training session on how to get the most out of your content: reusing content on other platforms and ensuring that it’s shared and made available for longer than radio’s typical shelf-life of “broadcasting it and it’s gone”. I learnt a lot from them: Facebook is huge in Malaysia, and they use Facebook Live, particularly, to connect with listeners in ways I’ve not seen before.
Chatting after both events, Malaysians are fascinated and worried about Donald Trump (hardly surprising, given it’s a Muslim country) and also curious and appalled about “Brexit”, the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. They don’t understand how either Trump and Brexit could ever have happened, and I can’t really help them with either. But when Tiger beer is on special, it doesn’t matter too much that I don’t have all the answers.
The event celebrated the good things happening with Malaysian radio. All commercial stations are now using the same radio research - good for the industry and for advertisers alike. A united and vibrant Commercial Radio Malaysia industry body is reaching out to advertisers and making them excited about radio in all its forms.
In Malaysia, radio is united - keen to show that it makes a difference, and keen to display how joined-up it is to advertisers who have more choice than ever. We can learn much from the country in how to work together for the benefit of the industry at large. I look forward to returning soon.
About The Author
James Cridland is a radio futurologist: a writer, speaker and consultant on the effect that new platforms and technology are having on the radio business across the world.
A former radio presenter, James has worked for stations and companies across the world, including the original Virgin Radio in London, the BBC, Futuri Media, Imagination Technologies and Seven Network. He has judged many industry awards, including the CBAA, ABC Local Radio, RAIN and the UK's ARIAS.
British by birth, James lives in Brisbane, QLD and is a fan of craft beer.
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