Radio used to be the most immediate method of accessing news information and to many it remains an indispensable means of obtaining news. But how can radio maintain its position as a valuable and relevant medium when digital media offer effective, instantaneous methods of communicating using a combination of text, video and audio?
The answer, many would argue, is 'visualisation'. Essentially, this is a process of filming what is actually happening in a studio and broadcasting it via the web. Why do this? What is the difference between visualisation and television?
However, the effect that visualisation achieves is quite different, as explained on the BBC College of Journalism Blog. Visualisation shows the radio studio as a working environment, where interviews are held, where music is performed and where news is reported. It is very much unlike watching interview or performances in the highly engineered context of a pre-recorded television show, for instance. The attraction with visualisation is occupying the privileged position of 'fly on the wall', seeing the internal workings of a radio studio, which traditionally remains closed to the eyes of the public.
Visualisation also allows multimedia participation; video feeds can display texts and tweets from listeners on screen, so the element of audience involvement is heavily emphasised, creating an effective partnership between digital media and radio. Listeners can feel actively involved with the process of broadcasting in real-time. This can be extremely useful in reporting news stories with a high rate of public interest, such as the 2010 British general election, when 289, 000 people watched a live stream of an election debate on the BBC Radio 5 Live website.
The BBC adopted visualisation in 2009, as a means to bring some of its more popular shows to wider audiences and attract a wider audience. This had been particularly successful with popular music shows, such as Radio One's Live Lounge, which showcases informal live performances from musicians via the web.
However, it's not only music programmes that can profit from visualisation. BBC Radio 4, which specialises in radio documentary, comedy, drama and news, also places some its shows on Youtube, for instance, this clip of Jonathan Dimbleby, in the studio, recording a Radio 4 charity appeal for Water Aid.
So, it seems that visualisation may be the key to keeping radio relevant amongst a mass of digital media.