Radio New Zealand and the Internet: Ten Years of Transformation
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In 2007 I surveyed Radio New Zealand audience data to interrogate how its relatively new website was being used by listeners. That research found that ‘the majority of New Zealand users accessed the Radio New Zealand site to engage in activities complementary to the actual linear, geographical broadcast, while only around 10 per cent used the digital audio and time-shifting features of the website’ (Mollgaard, 2007). A decade later, I revisit audience use of the Radio New Zealand website with new tools such as Google Analytics and Radio New Zealand’s own reporting regime as well as other sources to demonstrate how New Zealand’s only public broadcaster has met the challenges of digital transformation. In a sense, Radio New Zealand has ‘rebelled against itself’ in creating a contemporary and captivating web experience for its current and emergent audiences, in the face of financial hardship, staff revolts and government indifference. This research reveals the key drivers of change at Radio New Zealand over the past decade as it has realigned itself to growing online audiences, the increasingly visual nature of media cultures, the potentialities of new internet developments and the changing nature of audiences in the digital age. This research reveals significant changes in both the amount of people using the website and how it is used, as well as definitive shifts in the design and use of audio and other content elements available through the website. The remarkable increase in audience uptake of web-based programming generated by Radio New Zealand is a complex reaction to critical changes at the organisation, but also changes in digital technologies and how contemporary media audiences use them. This research provides more insights into how radio is transforming in the multi-platform, and arguably, increasingly platformneutral digital environment.