Engagement + Marketing

Voices Carry: Understanding and Expanding Your Audience

So many histories, cultures, customs, and languages have remained in existence because of community radio stations.


Our Voices on the Air: Reaching New Audiences Through Indigenous Radio, an inaugural conference — held from July 31 to Aug. 2 at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. — dedicated to preserving and revitalizing indigenous languages and cultures that are currently endangered (mostly due to government intervention). The event made me realize the importance of knowing your audience, and giving them exactly what they want. The delegates at the Our Voices conference attended the event to better understand how they can serve their listeners and fulfill their mission. Understanding your audience and never letting anything get in the way of your message were two key takeaways.

I was reminded of this concept this afternoon when I came across an article in Brooklyn Based, a local borough newsletter. A Brooklyn-based internet radio station, BBOX, is currently broadcasting live shows — including “17 music shows, spanning genres from hip-hop to salsa, and talk shows covering everything from the environment to independent film” — several hours a day from various locations in Brooklyn neighborhoods.

Now while Brooklynites may not be considered an indigenous culture (unless you consider hipsters indigenous), a quote from one of the four founders of BBOX, Katrina Cass, stood out to me. When discussing the nomadic radio station, she said: “It allows us to be more present in more neighborhoods, and better reflect Brooklyn as a whole.” She goes on to add: “We’ve learned how to run an organization starting from zero and build a community, and rely on the strengths of a really diverse crowd of people to make something unique and different.”

Accurately reflecting, and reaching, your demographic by fully immersing yourself in their lives is an interesting, and effective, strategy. While the goal of the radio producers at the Our Voices conference was to keep a culture alive, they also wanted to make a point to accurately represent the voices and views of thousands of individuals. While it’s important to accurately represent your audience on a radio show, it’s just as (if not more) important to do so at a live event. Otherwise, your strategizing will go to waste if the breakout sessions, keynote speakers, and team-building opportunities fall on deaf ears.

Sarah Beauchamp

Sarah Beauchamp was formerly assistant editor of Convene.