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Wednesday, February 13, 2013
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Fear Drives Opportunity for Radio Online

For the group of people who concentrate on pushing audio to listeners via the internet, there appears to be an opening in opportunity. We're not just talking about the big players like Pandora, Spotify, Live365, etc. What I refer to as the "enthusiastic amateur" also has this opportunity - which comes from fear within the radio industry, and grows more profound each day.

Fear makes leaders do illogical thinking, and fear can usually be identified by illogical reasoning that precedes action.
"In both examples we have people who control the message, massaging it to place radio in the best possible light. The reason for this approach is similar to why people lie; they fear repercussions when truth gets out."

Let's take one example from two sources.

There appears a new push to use "global" concepts and surveys to show just how important radio is. Only problem with this is that radio is not held in the same esteem throughout the world.

Worldwide, radio is much more relative to audience in other countries than here in the United States.

Over the past 15 years in South America, Europe's Baltic region, the far East, Asia, Africa, and to a lesser degree Canada and Australia, radio has not been weakened by consolidations like it was in the United States. Populations in each area still heavily depend on their radio industry as a supplier of local information and entertainment.

With the above in mind, let's take two examples of recent headlines that have been used to bolster a feeling of radio's strength in the U.S.

The first example is in today's "Inside Radio." It carries a headline of "Study shows radio sells new products." Its first sentence reads: "At its best, radio’s theater of the mind should help sell something regardless if someone has ever heard of the product before." The second sentence states: "Four-in-ten consumers say they’re either 'much more' or 'somewhat more' likely to buy a new product if they learned about it through radio advertising."

Both sound as if there's great reason to believe in the health of radio, an objective this Clear Channel-owned publication needs to keep alive. But get to the third sentence, the one stating: "That’s according to a new Nielsen global survey that suggests radio ad copy doesn’t always help make up for the fact there are no pictures." Besides not being able to tie the headline to this sentence, notice how it's a "global survey" that's being used to support the inferences mentioned in the first two sentences.

This is an irrational statement being driven by the fear of needing to meld American radio listening habits into a global schema (and is a statement I'll be more than happy to retract if anyone from "Inside Radio" cares to correct me).

The 2nd example deals with comments from persons who disagree with radio leaders, and how there appears to be reluctance in allowing those statements to be heard. And, I'm not talking about "Inside Radio" not offering an ability to comment on any of its stories. Instead, turn your attention to the "Radio Broadcasting" Linkedin group run by David Evans, Division President of New Business Development, Interactive, Publishing of Salem Communications.

About two weeks ago there was an article making the rounds in radio industry trade magazines. In his Linkedin group, it's being carried under the title "Radio isn't dead, it's hotter than ever."

Going to the article you can see multiple examples of how radio uses the medium in exceptionally creative ways. Only try going to the Linkedin group and reading comments there. Plenty of radio people make statements like "great article," "What astonishingly clever ideas!" and "A great read!!!!!"

It turns out that none of these "clever ideas" are from our radio industry in the United States. One is from Germany. Others come from Columbia, Puerto Rico, Israel, and Malaysia.

So where does the "fear" come in? In this case it's in this group's leader not allowing a point of view that states (paraphrased) "OK, good points, but they're not applicable to the U.S. radio industry...." Because he won't print my comments there, I'll publish them here:

Will nobody point to the fact that radio has a connection to populations in other countries that is far more relevant than here in the United States. This article paints a picture of what happens when radio devotes itself to delivering relevant content (and, mostly, the fresh packaging of content). Anyone want to pinpoint when we've had "fresh" content developed here? The Jack format removed people from the microphones. Talk radio's been devoid of anything but controversy since the late 90s. Sports Talk was the last "new" format that gained traction, and it just celebrated 25 years.

If you'll indulge me for a little more: While TV made its name introducing "fresh" and "quality" commercials during the Superbowl, I listened to the 1st quarter of the Superbowl on radio. Heard nothing but standard commercials that play every other day of the week. Nothing new. No "special" spots.

Before the radio industry gets worked up by an article that has no relativity to what's happening in the American market, perhaps it would be wise to question what it is that radio has done here lately. The fast answer's going to be a deal with Sprint to put an FM chip in smartphones - but what's going to happen when this plays out in the same fashion as HD Radio's thud?

Sprint is offering 30 million smartphones. Radio is offering $15 million a year in advertising. Reading the contract, provided by Radio Ink (, notice the phrase "WHEREAS, Sprint Corporation ('Sprint') has signed a non-binding term sheet...."

Like so many other times, let's not get too excited until we see where this ends up. We've had so much fanfare accompanied by so little movement that it's time to ask if all this boasting about radio in other countries is even applicable to what's happening here.

For the select group of people who concentrate on pushing audio to listeners via the internet, fear not. People who lead the radio industry are reluctant to let truth be told. They appear to lean towards censoring anything that's said about radio's weakness, and that is the strength which internet radio should play off of.

When words are twisted to give a false sense of importance, when they are withheld because of a fear that the troop's morale may be lowered, broadcast radio's competition has an opening it should take advantage of.

In both examples we have people who control the message, massaging it to place radio in the best possible light. The reason for this approach is similar to why people lie; they fear repercussions when truth gets out.

Those operating online radio stations will find this fear within the radio industry growing with each passing day.

It's not a "winner take all" war. It is a "get what you can anyway you can get it" battle - as these radio leaders clearly demonstrate.

It's an internet radio industry opportunity. Take advantage of it.

While the broadcast side of radio has a near lockout on indie artists, introducing music is open wide to internet stations.
Here's a Rock artist to consider: Nick Rotundo.
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Nick Rotundo

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Nick Rotundo's "Live for the Money Today" a listen.

Add it to your playlist, free! Such is the new world of music distribution.

The radio industry had its shot. It's time internet radio programmers take a chance and reach into a huge pile of talent. It is there that new hit songs will increasingly be found.

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