Once upon a time, International Community Radio Taiwan (ICRT) was an oasis on the airwaves of Taiwan. For the newly arrived foreigner, long-time foreign resident, or global traveller, tuning into ICRT was a guaranteed connection to the world at large
It wasn’t just the music… it was the news, the personalities, and the style that harked back to familiar surroundings. Naturally, ICRT became a center for the small, but vibrant foreign community in Taiwan.
Taiwan’s rapid globalization, especially over the past 10 years, has changed the radio landscape of this country. ICRT was joined by savvy competition, who imitated ICRT’s success in the past, except they did it in Mandarin and Taiwanese. However, ICRT’s obvious and natural differentiation was untouched – the station remained the haven for foreigner listeners, who starved for news and music from their own countries.
In an apparent move to shake things up and return to its No. 1 position in the ratings, ICRT has made a radical choice: become a Chinese radio station. No one would argue against going after a larger core audience. But ICRT has a unique history and a special mandate.
For abandoning us and its own special mandate, we ask ICRT to do the following:
1. Return to radio programming in English - at least for certain parts of the day, and consider using the familiar 2-person or clubhouse format that is common in drive-time hours in the west
2. Provide more on-air discussion of major news stories - there are no alternatives in Taiwan for English talk-radio. This may partly explain why Forumosa.com sometimes views itself not only as an online community about Taiwan, but as a discussion forum about what people in Taiwan talk about.
3. Resurrect the community message board, where announcements for the foreign community could be broadcast for free. This would include Taiwan-specific content, like where the best live music venues are and what are on the minds of people in Taiwan (local and foreign)
4. Seek funding from the government to support the English language programming hours. This has precedent in the new Formosa TV English news programming
5. Conduct cross-promotional efforts with Taiwan-oriented online communities like Forumosa.com that can offer fresh ideas
6. Explore and use alternative rating methods to measure ICRT’s effectiveness and reach - it is widely beleived that the regular ratings system does not poll foreigners, the very audience that makes ICRT special. GIO English funding could be used to pay for innovative ways to properly and fairly assess ICRT’s true audience