Radio in China is still very popular

There are more than 3,000 radio stations that serve China’s population of 1.3 billion people

There are more than 3,000 radio stations that serve China’s population of 1.3 billion people, but like the rest of the world China is facing a battle, with more and more listeners moving away from radio and listening to other audio via their smartphones.

Han Lei is Vice President of Radio for China’s largest broadcaster, Shanghai Media Group.  Han Lei looks after 13 radio stations in Shanghai for SMG – 6 news stations, 4 music stations and 3 others – and shares his tips on how he combats the move away from radio.

“Radio in China is still very popular”, says Han Lei.  “Yes, that’s because there are more and more vehicles on the road in China.  But we are facing some challenges.”

While popular social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are not available in China (due to government censorship), there are other local platforms that the population uses, such as Weibo, Youku and Wechat.

“People now get music from social media.  But we also have opportunities”, Han Lei continues.

“In a city like Shanghai, local (radio) stations are important.  People want to know what is happening in the city”.

One of the events that has taken over the city recently is the Chinese Top 10 Music Award concert, run each year by SMG’s Radio 101.

“March each year we organize a music, and give away 12,000 tickets to our listeners.  It is very popular, with more than 23 billion views of our content,” Han Lei explains.

Han Lei makes it clear that it’s not simply about the content on-air, but the events and content you create off air that helps build your station brand.

“What we do is cutting edge, very fashionable for our 101 listeners.  It provides a high end service to our audiences”, Han Lei says.

Another trend that have tapped into is the popularity of food delivery in China.

“Food delivery in China is very popular with young generation because they are very lazy…so every summer we do creative things with food delivery.”

This year 101 created the “special summer drink”, where listeners could request a special drink be delivered.  The drink was limited to 500 per day, and was guaranteed to be original, featuring a counterfeit proof image of the station’s DJ’s, which could also be collected.

While China faces the same battle as western countries, they have a good understanding of their audiences and are offering added value through events and promotions that ensure they remain relevant to younger audiences.