Home News Opinion: Local Radio Navigates Digital Audio’s Opportunities

Opinion: Local Radio Navigates Digital Audio’s Opportunities

While local radio in Ireland plays a key role in the provision of public service media, the growth in digital audio in recent years has presented the sector with new opportunities and challenges, writes Peter Smyth.

In the dynamic landscape of media consumption, digital audio is booming and has emerged as a powerful force, shaking things up for traditional radio broadcasting. The way we listen is changing fast and as we step into 2024, Ireland finds itself at a pivotal juncture where local radio stations are navigating through transformative opportunities and trends brought on by the digital age.

What are the key drivers? How does digital audio and local radio in Ireland intersect and what are the growth and adaptation opportunities they present to listeners, brands and stations?

The digital revolution has redefined how audiences engage with audio content.  Streaming platforms, podcasts, and online radio have exploded onto the scene, offering listeners a smorgasbord of choices that challenge the traditional dominance of terrestrial radio. However, far from rendering local radio obsolete, digital audio technologies have opened doors for innovation and collaboration, fostering a symbiotic relationship between traditional broadcasters and new media platforms.


The rise of podcasting has provided local radio stations with a new avenue for content creation and another route to connect with listeners. By producing high-quality podcasts that delve deeper into local stories, issues, and culture, stations can complement their live broadcasts and extend their brand presence in the digital sphere. Podcasting also offers a monetisation opportunity through advertising and sponsorships, providing an additional revenue stream for local broadcasters in an increasingly competitive market.

Smart + AI technology

The rise of smart speakers and voice-activated assistants represents a significant shift in how audiences interact with audio content. offering seamless access to radio stations and podcasts through voice commands. This presents a compelling opportunity for local radio stations in Ireland. By optimising their content for voice search and partnering with technology companies to integrate their services into smart speaker ecosystems, stations can enhance accessibility and convenience for listeners while staying at the forefront of digital innovation.

Expanded Reach

Another – literally far-reaching – opportunity for local radio stations lies in leveraging digital platforms to expand their reach beyond geographical constraints.

The rise of online streaming and mobile applications has transformed radio consumption.  Listeners can now access their favourite local stations from anywhere in the world, fostering a sense of global community around regional content. This presents the potential for Irish local radio to not only cater to the diaspora but also to attract international audiences interested in authentic local voices and perspectives.

Data Optimisation

Furthermore, data analytics and audience insights have become a game changer for local radio stations seeking to effectively understand and cater to their audience priorities.  This enables stations to adopt a data-driven approach to programming and marketing strategies. By harnessing data analytics platforms, stations can gain deeper insights into listener demographics, behaviour, and content preferences. This data-driven approach not only improves listener satisfaction but also enables stations to attract advertisers by offering targeted advertising solutions based on audience segmentation and engagement metrics.


However, despite these opportunities, local radio stations in Ireland also face hurdles adapting to the digital world. Streaming giants and social media platforms pose a threat to audience attention and advertising revenue. To stay in the game, stations must differentiate themselves by emphasising their unique local identity, community connections, and personalised content offerings. Additionally, investing in digital infrastructure and talent development is crucial to ensuring operational efficiency and content quality in the digital age.

Overall, our perspective at IRS+ is that the convergence of digital audio and local radio in Ireland presents a wealth of opportunities for innovation, expansion, and audience engagement.

By embracing digital platforms, using new tech to their advantage, and making data their friend, stations can not only survive, but absolutely thrive in this digital media landscape. As we move through 2024 and beyond, the key to success lies in embracing change, staying agile, and staying true to the essence of local storytelling and community connection.

Peter Smyth is CEO of IRS+ (www.irsplus.ie)


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