Media Perspective: Surely the Aerials are something for radio to celebrate?

Fans of Star Wars are obviously geeks. They're obsessed with limited-edition Princess Leia figures, double-ended light sabres and numerous conspiracy theories about the Empire.

Confirmation of this came last week in the form of a radio ad for Odeon cinemas. It was promoting a Star Wars exclusive - collect four different posters, one each time you go to see the film.

Four times? Clearly Star Wars fans are great news for the cinema business, if not for pub conversation. The ad in question wasn't that great but it was relevant and well-targeted to the subject matter and audience of the programming.

Radio is a medium that hasn't been attracting the best headlines of late (what with ad revenues at the larger groups, such as GCap and Chrysalis, in decline and the Rajar audience figures still showing a strong BBC outperforming commercial radio in share terms). Yet there is cause for some optimism. At least the standard of radio creative has improved over the years, thanks in no small part to the Radio Advertising Bureau's Aerials Foundation initiative.

A key part of this, the Aerial Awards, celebrate their tenth anniversary in October and the RAB has just named the joint chairmen of the Awards.

It has hit on the amusing wheeze of pairing the two Al Youngs (one from St Luke's and the other from FCB London) to chair proceedings.

They join high-profile names such as John Hegarty, Steve Henry and Dave Droga in the ranks of Aerials chairman. But the great thing about the Aerials is that they're voted for on the night by the assembled creatives, creating more of a buzz and involvement than you get at most awards.

Importantly, the Aerials Foundation has backed up this awards activity with seminars for creatives and other ad agency people to immerse them more in the radio process - evidence of the RAB's deliberate switch in emphasis away from media to ad agencies. Any improvement in creative boosts radio's standing and, on the whole, the general quality of national radio ads has moved on in those ten years.

Maybe the peaks weren't as high at 2004's Aerials as they had been in some previous years, but the overall standard was good. And the RAB is not alone; other media are also heavily targeting ad agencies in an attempt to improve their stock through better creative.

And as well as investing in the RAB, media owners such as GCap and Chrysalis have invested in their own creative resources for advertisers, to such an extent that I'd say that in the area of trying to improve an environment for their advertisers, most radio companies have worked hard and behaved responsibly. And the Aerials aren't a bad night out either, especially if you've already seen Star Wars four times.