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Rose Colored Glasses

Updated: Mar 7, 2023

Following a couple weeks of articles, from me and others, acknowledging the challenges that radio faces, it seems to me that we need to put on some “rose-colored glasses” for a moment and look at the other side of radios dilemma. Definition of rose-colored glasses; favorably disposed opinions: optimistic eyes view the world through rose-colored glasses.

We can “gee, ain’t it bad” all day long, but that changes nothing. Many of my articles prompt responses from individuals using fabricated names who take issue with something I’ve written, and they bemoan that radio is not what it used to be, and it will never be what it was. They’re right. Many of their opinions are true, unvarnished criticisms that assess the erosion of radio. What isn’t being pointed out is the many positives of our business, the services we provide, and what vacuum would be created if radio went away.

Until someone is willing to lower their commercial load and charge more for messages, the over commercialization of radio will continue. It doesn’t appear as if anyone has the financial ability or fortitude to suffer short term losses for what could be long-term gains. Radio hasn’t bled bad enough yet, to bite the bullet, and take that step.

We can talk about giving more accountability to local markets, providing more coaching to talent, do more in the way of research with your audience, and promote & market aggressively. Until we stop talking about it and do it, we won’t see change. So, let’s leave that there, filed away for a future discussion when people are finally ready, and do more of what we know the audience wants from us that we can do now and that we do well.

Radio provides localized information. Even in markets where there are voice-tracked and network/syndicated talent. If executed properly, and talent are prepped, you can be connected to your community. Informationally, social media is faster, and sometimes as accurate as radio, but the smart broadcasters aggregate social media and report on what’s trending locally.

Radio entertains. That comes from the music we play, the talk content we present, and the personalities who entertain. The march of time continues to magnify the need for engaging, entertaining, informed and memorable personalities who can attract an audience daily. In many markets, on-air talent are seen as local celebrities, and have an advantage if they are in-market can entertain and connect at a high level.

During the pandemic, we heard of stations losing 40% of their revenue, except in many smaller markets where many stayed flat and a significant number of stations showed revenue growth. Their growth came because of local buying and because of relationships. Radio sells services, products, materials, health, wealth and hope. We move whatever the advertiser wants to move and in many ways smaller market radio has become akin to the community newspaper. Radio does that well.

Radio has great reach. It isn’t what it once was. It never will be back at former levels. Too much competition. Radio has 85% of the USA listening every week. That’s less than in the past, but it still has reach beyond every other medium. It won’t erode quickly, but it will continue to erode. As will all media.

Radio has portability and is ubiquitous. It can be found everywhere. Over the air, online, on smart speakers, smart phones, on aggregated apps and individual station apps. Radio is mostly convenient. “Mostly convenient” are the specific words I use here as, in newer vehicles, it takes some discovery to find the radio hidden deeply in a smart dash. This, as Jacobs Media pointed out in their recent Tech Survey, is why apps have resurfaced as important for broadcasters. People with in-auto Bluetooth listen to what they want, when they want, on their phone. That includes listening to radio. If they have a radio station app, they can simply tap the app on their phone, and the station comes through their radio speakers. Forget that they could just turn on the radio. That’s not convenient enough and it isn’t a developed habit among the younger listener.

Despite all the changes in the last decade in how Americans access music, AM/FM radio is still the most cost-effective advertising medium today. It's an inexpensive way to reach your existing and potential customers. There are three big variables you want to control when scheduling radio ads: reach, frequency, and consistency. When it comes to music discovery, albeit less important than it once was, it’s in a dead heat with the DSP’s and is the difference between a song being a hit and not. Radio remains the greater driver of creating stars and making hits.

We cannot forget that Companionship is the #1 reason people listen to the radio. That dates back many years to when people listened to music on AM Radio. Radio provides companionship. It’s something we do well. It is something that we can capitalize on without those rose-colored glasses.

What Radio Does Well:

  • Delivers local information.

  • Connects to a community.

  • Entertains, informs, and engages using personalities.

  • Sells products, services, materials, health, wealth, fantasy and more.

  • Makes hits.

  • Provides convenience.

  • Is a companion.

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