10.4185/RLCS-2016-1096en | ISSN 1138 - 5820 | RLCS # 71 | 2016 | |
Spanish University Radio Stations’ Own Content Programming: Ondacampus, UPV Radio, Uniradio Jaén, Radio Universidad and RUAH
María Peña Mónica Pérez-Alaejos [CV] [ ORCID] [ GS] School of Social Sciences - University of Salamanca, USAL, (Spain) - email@example.com
Translation by Diane Garvey Zaccar
As a unifying force of media, the Internet has become the great new medium of the twenty-first century, capable of offering contents on a mass level, but at the same time personalized information adapted to each user according to their individual habits, tastes and preferences. Moreover, we have moved from the local to the global, but also from mass to segment, and as one would expect, the digital transformation and the Internet itself have led to a questioning of the old paradigm of sectors such as telecommunications and mass media (Hendy, 2000). Faced with this new situation, traditional media have had to re-invent themselves and try to become part of a situation that keeps on evolving by leaps and bounds. In the case of radio, this adaptation is going ahead with a certain amount of confusion and an unclear future.
“[…] the Spanish radio industry still needs to renovate its analogical model in the full digital age: the same as in other countries, radio has moved from the exclusiveness of the Hertzian medium to a much broader context where it converges with other media, formulas and multi-media services fostered by computer technologies, such that we are witnessing a mistrustful co-existence of the traditional concept of radio and the still uncharted territory that some authors call ‘postradio’”. (Pedrero Esteban, Sánchez Serrano, & Pérez Maillo, 2015: 422) (our translation).
Therefore, we consider that the research presented here is socially justified in that it proposes a continuity in the reviews of online radio content programming within the context of public universities, where this kind of programming must address the goals of training, educating, and disseminating culture, as well as making interactivity one of the principal engines for the creation and configuration of contents in their programming. Our goal was to analyze to what extent university radio stations address these public service objectives, and to do so we studied the programming of five public university radio stations in Spain that broadcast online, have a podcast library and fulfil all the requirements of our methodology.
In times of great technological change, it becomes necessary to reflect on the new contexts that are emerging not only on a technical level, but on a social one as well. Traditional paradigms no longer serve to understand the communicative processes in the mass media, according to Orihuela (2002); the existence of the Internet means that they have to reinvent themselves. The new media context that adapts to or emerges directly from the web can be defined through seven new paradigms proposed by Orihuela (2002): interactivity, personalization, multimedia, hypertextuality, updating, abundance and mediation. Thus, radio has also found itself involved in this change or transition to new paradigms. Gallego (2010) describes the main aspects that today’s radio companies should stress: digitalization, convergence, and interactivity.
Radio today is not only listened to; it can be seen, written to, participated in, chatted about. The aim, proposed by Cebrián (2008), is to broaden the contents, with texts, images, video and, in short, all types of extra multimedia content that complements the main services based on the broadcasting of audio contents.
“The 2.0 environment widens the concept of radio consumption, which is no longer exclusively linear. But the object of consumption also varies, and, in addition to being audio it can be complemented with texts and images. Giving value to the objectives is one of the priorities of radio stations, which consider that they are thus also reinforcing the digital brand.” (Martí i Martí, Monclús, Gutiérrez, & Ribes, 2015: 18).
In this aspect, the models of Internet radio programming and therefore the majority of university radio stations now entail both live broadcasting and the opportunity to store contents to make them available to audiences.
“The young university audience shows a tendency that has consolidated into individual, multi-screen, multi-task consumption with a constant drive for interaction with their preferred audiovisual contents through mobile applications and social networks. This new channel of communication opens new, practically unlimited, possibilities for communication groups that were unthinkable only five years ago.” (Ortega, González Ispierto, & Pérez Peláez, 2015: 627-651) (our translation).
To understand the concept of online radio one has to comprehend the possibilities the Internet offers this medium and thus also the university radio stations that had their origins there. The web has opened up new opportunities for audio exposure on the radio, and, according to Pagador (2012), three of these are durability (audio archives), fleetingness (audio broadcasts only available at certain times, such as news), and live broadcasting (downloading of podcasts and streaming). The Internet has also permitted the use of new languages because of its multimedia nature, links and hyperlinks, and the possibility of accessing contents in a non-sequential way (Farkas, 2006).
Online radio is not limited to streaming; the podcast is another very important element when consuming radio contents on the Internet. Users can have access to and download audio contents and listen to them wherever, whenever and however they want. This allows personalized media consumption (Crofts, Dilley, Fox, Retsema, & Williams, 2005).
The Internet offers university radio stations the possibility of creating communities, forums, surveys, blogs, and of interacting with the audience when creating and programming contents, or giving their audience the freedom to change the contents according to their individual tastes, and to publish them and retransmit them (Gallego, 2010). We have come to the point where the audience no longer only listens, but has moved from passivity to activity, evaluating the products, participating in their construction and disseminating them (Canavilhas, 2011: 22).
“This is precisely where university radio can differentiate itself, in the content. That is why it must devote time to what the general-interest radio stations normally do not: to culture, science, social exclusion, underprivileged groups, etc. That is, university radio should devote itself to broadcasting specialized or alternative contents to be able to reach the public or audience that the rest of the media are not able to.” (Espino Narváez, 2014: 29).
For all of these reasons we consider that the academic interest of this research study lies in the critical approach to what we present as a trend towards a homogenization of contents in the radio stations analyzed, in contrast to the voices advocating that university radio stations should take good advantage of the resources available to them (Perona Páez, 2012; Romo, 1989). The text contributes a negative view of the results obtained and progresses towards a constructive criticism that will help these radio stations to differentiate themselves from commercial and general interest radio as far as contents and objectives are concerned.
Currently, there are different models of programming: general-interest radio, music radio, and cultural radio. One of the definitions of general-interest radio is that made by Faus (1995: 182), who understands it as “radio of information, of intellectual communication, of ideas, that is, total radio”. On the other hand, Moreno (2005) defines music radio as that which constantly airs musical contents, taking advantage of the aesthetic-emotional dimension of music. It is heard more than it is listened to and accompanies more than it informs. This is the largest radio specialization. Finally, we have the characteristics of cultural radio, of which university radio forms a part. It pertains to the group of thematic radio stations, whose objectives are educational, cultural and informative. The structure and programming of their contents depend less on news and current events and focus more on educational aspects. The cultural message is meant to enrich minds and seeks to “cause the audience to make an effort and at the same time clarifies what it broadcasts in order to awaken the public to new interests” (Moreno, 2005: 13).
1.1. The university radio phenomenon
University radio stations are a radio phenomenon that comes within the frame of what we know as free or non-profit audiovisual mass media. These stations are linked to academic institutions, usually universities, and thus their objectives are mainly cultural, educational, informative and entertaining, addressed chiefly to a young university student public. The goal of the university is to educate citizens, and university radios can be considered one more tool involved in this educational purpose.
These stations are proliferating owing to the advances in technologies and the Internet, giving rise to greater participation and debate among the audience, according to Espino Narváez and Martín Pena (2012). This digital boost in an online context must be understood within the context in which non-profit radio exists: low budgets, non-commercial programming and mainly cultural objectives. This is why, although there are university radio stations that broadcast over the air, most of them have found their best ally in the Internet, owing to its global nature and the fact that the allocation of radio frequencies is not necessary. This reduction in costs and requirements for broadcasting quality programming is much more favorable on the Internet, which in addition offers the possibility for increased interaction with audiences, for generating debates, and for permitting the station and the audience to work together to build contents. Its multi-media aspect allows greater variety of contents and greater dissemination of them through social media and the possibilities of hypertext. Since no legislation exists in Spain specifically to regulate these radio stations, and even less so on line, there has been an increase in the number of new university radio stations that broadcast on line.
In Spain, university radio emerged in the 1940s with Radio Barcelona and Cadena SER, which broadcast university contents even then. The first Spanish radio station entirely devoted to the university was that of the University of La Laguna, which began broadcasting in 1987. According to Marta and Segura (2012), Radio Universidad de Salamanca appeared in 1996, and in subsequent years radio stations of the following universities came on the scene: Complutense University de Madrid, Autonomous University of Madrid, and the Universities of Navarra, León and A Coruña.
The university radio stations pertaining to the Association of University Radio Stations (ARU, acronym in Spanish)  are addressed in this research and currently number 22. Their main objectives, as stated on the Association’s website (ARU, 2014), are to group radio professionals from Spanish universities, plan and disseminate university, cultural, scientific and technological topics to society in the form of radio contents, and, in short, any other activity relating to public service that has been entrusted to universities.
The ends pursued by ARU coincide with the spirit of the university as an institution; however, what we intended to do in this research, by analyzing programming grids, was to study whether these objectives are actually met or whether university radio stations function simply as one more university service. “Nonetheless, the sector still shows important signs of instability […] The reasons behind these circumstances have a lot to do with the fragile structure on which, with a few exceptions, this type of mass media depends: diffuse organization, temporary volunteer workers, scarce or null budget after the initial investment, etc.” (Perona Páez, 2012: 38).
University radio stations are non-profit, and this means that they are entities that should not receive economic benefits for their activity. However, to better understand what being a non-profit radio station in Spain involves, it would not be amiss to review the pertinent Spanish legislation regarding the mass media, and more specifically, radio.
The General Act of Audiovisual Communication (BOE, 2010) defines the radio as an audiovisual communication service with editorial responsibility and with the objective of providing programs and contents aimed at informing, entertaining or educating the public at large, and of broadcasting commercial communications. The legislation focuses mainly on stations and public and private service providers. However, the LGCA also regulated and takes into account free, alternative or community radio stations that are non-profit and that had existed in a legal limbo for years (Hernández Prieto, 2016). Arboledas (2012) points out that the first time these types of radio stations were recognized in the legislation was with the Planning Act of 1987, which stipulates that to receive a non-profit radio license the owner had to have Spanish nationality and be a resident of the country.
The LGCA of 2010 was an attempt to fill the gap in specific legislation for the free radio sector, despite the subsequent lack of specificity at the level of tendering in Spain’s Autonomous Communities. This Act stipulates that community non-profit private communication services will be able to provide non-commercial audiovisual communication services to attend to the specific social, cultural and communication needs of communities and social groups, as well as to foster citizen participation. These contents must be broadcast openly and without commercial advertising. The providing of these services requires a license that establishes the conditions that guarantee that these services are not commercial.
These non-lucrative radio stations are a “blind spot in the entire Spanish radioelectric system” (Badillo & Pérez Alaejos, 2012: 90). Most of Spain’s autonomous communities have not known how to guarantee their legal existence, and oblige them to participate in competitions for licenses together with commercial stations; alternatively, they have tried to eliminate them from regulation.
In regard to exclusively online radio, the LGCA makes practically no reference to the Internet context. It is therefore understood that regulation in this aspect will be determined by respecting and paying for the licenses and canons relating to copyright and royalties of protected audiovisual contents, especially in the case of music. This legal “vacuum” of online radio has been one of the main drivers behind the creation of new free or university radio stations, to come back to the subject of our research.
The main objective in this study is thus to determine what Spanish public university radio is like on the Internet, analyzing the type of contents offered and the extent to which their programming is homogeneous. In addition, given that web 2.0 interactivity is key to the dissemination of contents, we addressed the type of relation these stations have with their audience through social networks.
Although there are both public and private universities in Spain that have radio stations, we decided to analyze only those linked to public universities, since they are likely to be the ones that foster free and public citizen education to a greater extent. Besides offering academic and educational contents, these radio stations should support the dissemination of cultural and social contents, providing an alternative to radio formulas and general interest radio programming. Thus we posit the first hypothesis of our study:
H1. The contents of Spanish university radio stations linked to public universities are above all educational and cultural, in line with the objectives pursued by universities: to educate citizens.
If this kind of programming is to have a sizeable impact, it must be stable. The design of weekly programming with a succession of constant programs and a minimum of variation helps not only to garner audience loyalty, but also to create a positive image that can attract a wider audience.
It must also be taken into account that broadcasting university radio on the Internet offers very favorable possibilities for the stations’ activities. These stations and their web services should offer accessible and up-to-date contents to their audiences. Just as private radio stations (both general interest and thematic) usually present quite similar programming, since their objectives are similar, Spanish university radio stations may also be likely to reflect this tendency to design programming with common features. Thus, we pose the second hypothesis of our study:
H2. Spanish university radio stations linked to public universities chosen for the sample, and which therefore fulfill all the requirements established in the study, are homogeneous in nature and show similar programming.
Our idea was to find out what type of programming the selected stations use, whether it falls in line with the principles and values related to university institutions, and whether the stations take advantage of the possibilities offered by the Internet as a channel for differentiating their contents from what is offered by commercial radio.
The research consists of a comparative study based on the quantitative analysis of the contents, programming and social network activity of the Spanish university radio stations chosen for the sample.
There are many definitions of “content analysis.” Walizer and Wienir (1978), among others, define it as any systematic procedure devised to examine the contents of stored information. Krippendorf (1980) defines it as a research technique capable of making valid and stable inferences from data about a context. The definition by Kerninger (1986) is perhaps one of the most standardized: content analysis is a method of study and analysis of communication in a systematic, objective and quantitative way, with the purpose of measuring certain variables. To design and direct the most appropriate work method when approaching the task of collecting, analyzing and exhibiting data, we reviewed several previous academic studies in this sense related to the topic of radio programming (Gutiérrez & Huertas, 2003; Martí i Martí, 1990; Moreno, 2005).
Given that there are many university radio stations, “the analysis of different radio stations that depend on institutions of higher education allows us to confirm the broad diversity of communication projects that can be found internationally. Each university radio station has its own objectives and a certain idiosyncrasy. In the case of Spanish radio stations these differences and typological variety are even greater.” (Fidalgo, 2009: 135).
We therefore began by establishing certain criteria for selecting the necessary sample population of radio stations for the research study. Thus the stations had to:
To delimit the size of our sample we consulted the website of the Association of Spanish University Radio Stations to find out how many of the stations were members. Of the 26 stations found, only 17 had active websites and regular online broadcasting. Among these 17 radio stations, 13 correspond to public universities, and four to private ones. Finally, we selected for the study the only five stations that fulfilled all of the requirements and criteria described above: Ondacampus (University of Extremadura), UPV Radio (Polytechnic University of Valencia), Uniradio Jaén (University of Jaén), Radio Universidad (University of Salamanca) and RUAH (University of Alcalá de Henares). The rest of the stations were ruled out because they did not meet the criteria.
After determining the sample, we went on to investigate the programming of each of these stations . Below, and in the understanding that genre, as defined by Wolf (1984), refers to that form of communication that the audience is able to identify without difficulty, and whose characteristics are linked to the type of contents offered, we proceeded to identify the topics offered by the university radios either by listening or by reviewing the podcast tags of each of the slots having their own autonomy within the programming. In all cases we excluded programming contents only meant to maintain continuity in the broadcasting, such as continuous music, breaks, and jingles. Thus, addressing only the autonomous slots, we defined nine types of subject matter or genres:
To locate the programming of the university radios within a time frame, we differentiated between weekdays and weekends, and the day was divided into three blocks of time: morning (8 AM to 2 PM), afternoon (2 PM to 9 PM), and night (9 PM to 3 AM). Uniradio Jaén is the only station that broadcasts a few programs after 4 AM, so we decided to include them as part of the morning slot. The sample contents were collected during the week May 26 - June 1, 2014.
We also decided to differentiate between four types of content duration (up to 10 minutes, up to half an hour, up to one hour, and longer than an hour) to be able to classify each spot within one of these categories and subsequently calculate the approximate number of hours the five radio stations devote to each genre. We then selected the data referring exclusively to weekday programming, since that is when the stations offer most of their own productions (on weekends the programming of autonomous spots decreases in favor of musical radio formula programming).
To analyze social network activity we sought out the Facebook and Twitter profiles of each of the stations and measured the data regarding their followers, the station’s own postings or what they post by others, “likes”, “shares”, comments, tweets, retweets, mentions and hashtags over the last week of May 2014 (May 26 - June 1). In addition, and for purely descriptive purposes, we collected information about the stations’ activity in social networks. These data have been arranged in tables that reflect the number of postings, tweets and different types of interaction in addition to the number of times each station promoted audience participation. To obtain a more overall picture of the topic we used the “Top 40 Spain” station broadcasting on May 26 as a point of comparison.
The results are presented in two different sections: the first is focused on the subject matter or genre used in the radio broadcasting, and the second addresses the analysis of the radio stations’ weekday programming.
As described in the Method section, all the information extracted and analyzed refers to programs that are a programming unit in themselves, not taking into account the contents that make up the “continuity” or station breaks, the purpose of which is to maintain constant broadcasting between specific programs, usually comprising music, brief items, or announcements. Below we present the data analysis relating to the thematic classification of university radio programming.
Table 1 . Classification by subject matter of university radio programming
Regarding the information in Table 1, and comparing the total number of programs represented, it can be observed that the genre that stands out most among all the stations is Music, followed by Entertainment and Educational, which between the three occupy 58.2% of total programs. In contrast, the types of content least represented in this set of stations are News (1.4%), and Film, with only 3.8% of the total programming. Not all the stations broadcast all the genres we chose to investigate. Ondacampus and RUAH do not offer news programs. UPV Radio has no programs devoted to film or other cultures, and RUAH has no programming of social contents.
If we take into account that the values relating to universities are the ones most linked to what we call News, Educational, Social and Other Cultures categories, we find that education is the only one to which all the radio stations devote programming. Only Unirradio Jaén and Radio Universidad offer programs in these four categories, whereas RUAH only participates in two of them.
Turning now to the analysis of the weekly programming of Spanish radio stations, the data presented below refer to the total number of autonomous programs within the stations’ programming, taking into account when they are repeated as well. Although in all cases we also analyzed weekend programming, results are only shown for the weekday programming, since it is more complete and based on the production of each station’s own contents. This analysis was done taking as a reference the data included in Table 2, which reflects the relation between the number of autonomous programs (plus their repeats) in the programming offered by each station on weekdays, and their type of content.
As can be observed, Music stands out above the rest of the categories, comprising more than a third of the programming in the total calculation of the five radio stations. Music is followed by Entertainment, but with less than half the programming devoted to Music, which was 37%, and in the last places we have Sports and Film, both with values under 4%. The mean presence of the rest of the content categories is approximately 8%. Briefly analyzing genre by genre all of the programming and repeats of all the stations, we find the following:
Focusing our attention now on the programming of each radio station, it can be seen that of the five university radio stations, the ones with the most slots devoted to their own autonomous programs from Mondays to Fridays are Radio Universidad and UPV Radio. The former offers almost five times the programs of Ondacampus, which comes in last with only 20. But to better understand the programming of these five stations, we can observe the behavior of each of them in their general weekday programming, based on the data shown in Table 3.
The weekly programming of the radio stations can be divided into several blocks of time; in this case we agreed on three: morning, afternoon and night. Table 4 shows which of these time blocks offers more programs in general and how each station in particular distributes its programs.
Tabla 4 . Classification of programming according to time block.
As far as the time blocks are concerned, the one accumulating the most programs in general is the morning, followed by the afternoon and in last place, nighttime. The thematic categories that appear most in the morning scheduling are Music (30.1%), Entertainment (18.3%) and Educational programs (12.9%), and these genres are also the most important ones in the afternoon. At night, however, news programs take over from educational ones (sharing the same percentage as Entertainment at 9.1%), but always behind Music, the leading genre occupying 63.6% of the programming. It is also of interest here to compare the behavior of each radio station in relation to these blocks of time:
Finally, in this comparative analysis of the programming of these five Spanish university radio stations, it is important to bear in mind how long each program lasts, that is, approximately how much real time is devoted to each genre. To start with, Table 5 shows data concerning program length in relation to the five stations.
Table 5 . Percentages of program length by station.
As can be observed, the programs lasting up to 60 minutes are those that clearly stand ahead in the total computation, followed by programs lasting approximately 30 minutes. Radio Universidad is the only station to broadcast programs lasting under 10 minutes and it is also the one with the most 30-minute programs. Uniradio Jaén and RUAH are the stations with the most contents lasting up to an hour in their own programming. Ondacampus is the station with the greatest percentage of programs lasting an average of 90 minutes in its weekday programming. In regard to the relation between subject matter and program length in the five stations, Table 6 shows the following results:
Table 6 . Classification of programs according to length and subject matter.
In regard to each classification of program length and taking into account all programs broadcast by the five stations:
An approximate calculation of the programming time that each station devotes to each topic category can be observed in Table 7.
Table 7 . Classification of genres and the time they occupy in each radio station.
The stations with the highest number of hours devoted to programming proper (i.e., not taking into account continuous music, breaks, space fillers, etc.) were UPV Radio and Radio Universidad (63h and 60h, respectively), and the one with the least was Ondacampus (20h). Among all the programs of all the stations, the categories with the most hours were Music and Entertainment (98.5h and 32.5h, respectively), whereas the least number of hours was devoted to Film and Sports (4.5h and 7.5h, respectively). Analysis of the hours in relation to each station shows that:
Additionally, we also made an approximation of each station’s activity on social networks and their interaction with their audience on Facebook and Twitter. Based on the data shown in Table 8 we analyzed the presence of each radio station on Facebook, as well as the type of use each of them made of this social network in order to interact with their audience during the week of May 26 - June 1, 2014.
Table 8 . University radio stations and Facebook.
The station showing the most activity, inviting the most participation and receiving the most feedback is Unirradio Jaén. The amount of each station’s own postings is similar for all five, but even so, Radio Universidad stands out. The only two stations that invite active audience participation are UPV Radio and Unirradio Jaén, whereas the rest limit themselves to informing about their broadcasts, contents or current events linked to their surroundings.
In regard to postings by others on the stations’ Facebook pages, only UPV Radio, Unirradio Jaén and Radio Universidad receive them, and in very low numbers (3, 2 and 3, respectively), although the feedback in the form of “Likes”, “Shares” and “Comments” that UPV Radio and Radio Universidad receive in this sense is quite a bit higher than in their own postings. None of the stations interact with their followers within their own postings or postings by others on the stations’ own pages.
The university radio stations analyzed also have their own profiles registered on Twitter. Table 9 shows the Twitter activity of the five stations over the week between May 26 and June 1, 2014.
The station that tweeted most during the week analyzed was Radio Universidad (80 tweets). The rest of the stations made an average of 24 tweets that week, an average of eight tweets of which were retweeted to others. The station receiving the most retweets was UPV Radio (almost 40% of its tweets). The only station that did not retweet to anyone was Uniradio Jáen, which, moreover, was the station that most demanded participation in its tweets, concretely in all of them, the same as in its postings on Facebook. Ondacampus was the other station that also invited audience participation through its tweets.
In relation to direct interaction, Ondacampus was the only station to answer the tweets of other users, and all of them except Uniradio Jaén were mentioned in tweets by others. Finally, all of them except Ondacampus and Uniradio Jaén used hashtags to promote dissemination of their contents. The activity of these radio stations on social networks is very low in comparison to that of large radio stations such as Top 40 Spain, whose social network activity can be seen in comparison to that of the university radio stations in in Table 10, which provides data on a single day of activity.
4. Discussion and conclusions
To summarize, the data show that the radio stations in the sample address contents that foster education, closely linked to university objectives, and pay less attention mainly to news and current events. Nonetheless, as we highlighted at the beginning, the genres that have the greatest weight in the stations analyzed are Music and Entertainment, which shows that the stations selected do not go so far as to risk offering a different kind of programming. “In my point o view, university radio stations are in the midst of an identity-seeking process within the broad spectrum of mass media. At the present time, the arrival of digital technologies and the development of information and communication technologies (ICT) means that the path taken by university radio, the same as in the case of the rest of the mass media, will become more and more global and employ more multimedia, although the radio will continue to be its principal medium of reference.” (Fidalgo, 2009: 135).
As far as our initial hypotheses are concerned, after the analyses it can be seen that although these university radio stations should have education as one of their prime objectives, the large number of hours and programs devoted to entertainment and music show that they are not ready to take the risk of proposing a “different” kind of radio. This does not mean that they do not devote time to cultural, educational and social programs, which in fact they do, and more so than in general interest radio stations, but not to the extent nor with the sufficient weight that one might expect from radio stations linked to institutions of higher education. In fact, the group of the stations’ own contents within the programming that contains educational programs comes in third place.
With these results we thus put into question the idea of (Romo, 1989) concerning the role of university radio stations in advancing the dissemination of culture, in seeking a dialogue with society, in denouncing social problems by constructing ideas of social knowledge and wisdom at the service of the community and in favor of social justice, not so much because of the profit-seeking typical of commercial radio programming as for a lack of creativity and a failure to take advantage of the new digital scenarios. The trend observed in this research is that university radio stations copy commercial formats and do not take risks by incorporating thematic categories that could differentiate them from the rest.
Our second hypothesis assumed that Spanish university radio stations linked to the public universities selected for our sample based on the criteria described in the methodology section would have homogeneous programming. This would mean that their programming is shaped around very similar original contents, in programming grids with common patterns.
“Most Spanish university radio stations broadcast their programming on the Internet, using streaming or podcasts. The most frequent type of programming has a mosaic structure, with short spots of the “window” type and fragmentary contents that usually make the rhythm of the broadcasting dynamic. These kinds of programs are usually thematic and have a set periodicity. Less common but present are programs of special coverage and practice of curricular contents for students.” (Marta & Segura, 2012: 122).
The stations analyzed show certain trends in terms of placing certain types of contents in specific time spots, such as music in the afternoon in most cases, and music at night on all the stations studied. These stations also tend to place news programs in morning or afternoon spots. Nonetheless, the sample size in future research should be greater in order to corroborate the trend toward homogeneity found here.
Along the same line as Perona Páez (2012: 47), we support the idea that university radio stations could take better advantage of the possibilities offered by the Internet and promote their web presence by making an authentic a la carte radio, interacting on Facebook and Twitter much more intensely, and participating in their programmed contents by intervening in blogs which some programs already have.
Moreover, the Internet has fostered the creation and development of this type of radio, as well as its range, which is now global. Interactivity is fundamental on the Internet, and the participation of these stations’ audiences, with a demographic profile of young people familiar with digital technologies, should be an essential pillar when constructing and sharing content. However, it seems that in general it is still difficult to enter into contact with this audience, and more contents are produced for them than with them; the stations offer content rather than involving audiences creatively and fostering dissemination. In short, the university radio stations studied fulfill a divulgative role, although that is not essentially their main objective. As they face the future, these stations should increase their offer of educational contents in order to position and differentiate themselves more clearly from commercial stations with general interest and thematic programming. They should also increase their activity on line to favor interaction and “teamwork” with an audience that is now demanding to form part of the creation of products consumed on the Internet, with much more personalized contents.
In relation to the ever greater segmentation and personalization of contents, it would be of interest to open future lines of research to verify whether university radio stations have adapted to or are on their way to adapting to these trends, in addition to increasing their offer of educational contents. Something that also should be investigated is how these changes in the generation of new, more individualized contents are taking place (if indeed they are taking place), and in what ways audiences are being integrated into this process in terms of how they study, their preferences and their habits of consumption. In short, we must continue once again to observe the development and adaptation of radio as it faces the new challenges that are emerging.
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 To extract the data on the number of programs, broadcasting schedules and program length, we reviewed the programming grids and podcasts available on the following websites: (http://www.ondacampus.es/radio_index.php?id_aplic=13; http://www.upv.es/pls/oreg/rtv_web.RadioCarta?p_idioma=c;http://uniradio.ujaen.es/; http://www.ruah.es). For Radio Universidad, we used the programming grid provided directly by the station.
How to cite this article in bibliographies / References
MPM Pérez-Alaejos, M Lavín, M Hernández-Prieto (2016): “Spanish University Radio Stations’ Own Content Programming: Ondacampus, UPV Radio, Uniradio Jaén, Radio Universidad and RUAH”. Revista Latina de Comunicación Social, 71, pp. 287 to 308.
Article received on 13 January 2016. Accepted on 18 March.