The internet has had a major effect on almost all aspects of modern life, including traditional radio platforms, giving listeners more than one way to consume content.
This allows people to listen to radio programmes that are broadcast via the internet, on a range of digital platforms, including their smartphones, electronic tablets or laptops.
This phenomenon has rippled to the local scene, where broadcasters are opting to host their own internet radio shows.
The most recent move is by industry veteran Glen Lewis leaving Metro FM to join online station Touch HD, owned by another former Metro FM host, Thabo “Tbo Touch” Molefe, who left the popular SABC radio station last year to join another veteran, Gareth Cliff, and form Touch Central.
Cliff, who was a radio host on the SABC’s 5FM for years, was one of the first of the big names in the broadcasting industry to venture into the online radio world.
He said that it was a move he did not regret, as the internet offered an array of opportunities for broadcasters.
“Personally, I wanted to do something new and exciting, and the internet was the place to do it. It was an evolutionary step,” he said.
“The internet is the unavoidable and ubiquitous destination for anyone looking for great content.”
Cliff said he believed that media platforms in their traditional form were struggling to compete with the digital world, and that the situation was likely to worsen.
“Ultimately all other media will fade in the opportunities the online space provides, both to content seekers and creators,” he said.
“The room for creativity, the potential for commercial collaboration and the quality of niche and ‘narrowcast’ platforms cannot be beaten by traditional radio, television, print and outdoor.”
It seems that Cliff’s decision to leave radio and venture into the online world since May 2014 is paying off.
In a recent comprehensive interview with My Broadband, he said that in 2015, 2.8 million podcasts were downloaded from CliffCentral.
This number went up to 2.93 million last year.
Of the podcasts downloaded in 2015, 1.2 million of those were Cliff’s show. Last year, Cliff’s show was downloaded 2.07 million times.
Last year, CliffCentral received 1.3 million live listener connections, which averaged about 100 000 a month.
Cliff said digital platforms in the country were becoming increasingly popular, and that this would result in even more people listening to radio online.
“South Africa is on the cusp of the digital revolution.
“We’re growing, and as smartphones and the internet become more widespread and commonplace, we’ll grow even faster.”
But Cliff admitted that the online radio space was not without difficulty as many people were reluctant to listen online.
“The only major challenge is getting people to understand how it works,” he said. “Once they see how easy and convenient on-demand listening on your smartphone is, you’ll never go back.”
Former 5FM radio host Gareth Cliff was one of the first big names in SA broadcasting to venture into online radio.