Updated: Jul 31
When you’re awake at night, staring at the ceiling before the monsters come to visit, if you’re like me, the mind tends to wander. Depending on how open your mind is to such cerebral journeys, these nocturnal thoughts may simply pass through your brain or they may take-up squatter rights and move-in. The latter is what often happens to me. The things that keep me awake are mostly those things that impact media and have a direct connection to my vocation. I suspect that I’m not alone pondering the way out of many a situation.
Radio remains an amazing marketing tool that sells products and has a nationally large audience, but it’s seeing erosion. I believe that I can argue that if the USA’s population wasn’t growing, that erosion would be even greater. The mediums impact is waning in regard to engaging with a younger audience, in creating day-to-day tune-in and in building loyalty. The level of competition that radio faces is greater than ever coming from many entertainment and information sources. That level will increase.
Increased competition is having an effect on more than radio. It’s impacting Television, Streaming, Theatre Performances, Movie Theatres, Podcasting and social media companies. Audio books, video reels and on-demand video. Digital content is a competitor. I think that it’s logical. More choices mean more competition. It also means having to step it up to compete.
Radio needs to present a better listening experience. Our content needs to be more attractive to garner the interest of the occasional listener to bring them back to radio. Radio needs to address the elephant in the room … which is too many long commercial stop-sets that negatively impact time spent listening … and there needs to be an investment in having the very best talent as a part of your team.
There’s too little focus on digital as an important part of radio. Radio has some amazing audio aggregators who have created a product worthy of being compared to the DSP’s or subscription services. There’s a dismissive attitude of “I have an app … check.” There are those who don’t see the value in being omnipresent which is an expansion of radios entertainment/information, marketing and sales benefit. The battle to keep radio in the car is a worthy battle, but if radio can be ubiquitous, it will be in a better position to win that battle.
I am kept awake with worry and fear as I think about the short-term thinking that is invasive in some broadcasters. Because each quarter is important, the thinking shifts to focus on the third month of each quarter, to make up for the first two months of the quarter. We’re all looking for that silver bullet. Is it podcasting, or online, or non-traditional revenue, or is it performing better over-the-air and generating revenue where the largest audiences live? My belief that it’s all of those tactics together.
When the worrying works it’s way through my brain, and I’ve lost count of the sheep that were jumping the fence, I settle into a slumber and dream of a world where radio is recognized for its’ attributes and benefits. It’s available everywhere that I go to for entertainment and information. I imagine an amazing listening experience, with significantly fewer commercials, hosted by fabulous talent who make me want to listen to them. The station and its’ talent make me feel that I know them. I’d like to hang out with them. They’re my friends. The radio station and the talent are involved in my community. The station is fun. It’s for me. This is radio performing at a higher level to compete with today’s high level of competition.
This is a dream that I don’t want to wake up from.