Radio Industry Will Never Be the Same
"The same as what?" you may ask. As before? When the broadcast radio industry introduced consolidation, it made sure "local" was just a word to align with "compelling." Neither holds meaning.
We have so many stations with so many forms of station-to-advertiser communications, and such shallow depth in audience, that the online radio industry ceased being a broadcast media in its infancy. Try to find standards within its request for proposal process; they don't exist.
"Radio's MBA leaders - who do not understand the complexities of building audio programming that is truly 'compelling' - have led the industry to a state of denial in both degenerative content and as an accountable ad platform."
Online or off, the radio industry is in a long-term disintegration, saved only by the public needing years to complete a shift to new systems. We're more than two-thirds through the time when an audience will seek its own audio, on its own terms - which is why there's truth in broadcast radio execs saying terrestrial radio still has a grip on drive time. But it's a slipping grip which none of them admits, akin to these photos of the change from buggy to automobile.
Signs of change surround us all. The upcoming Radio Show
, produced by NAB/RAB, liberally uses the term ROI to sell its importance. Yet, try getting a definitive ROI report after running a radio ad campaign. Over the past decade we've heard many times how attending this conference means an increase in knowledge, but has anyone witnessed anything introduced in a Radio Show session actually come to life? (Expectations of this changing in September are low. And again I'll beg, prove me wrong!)
For online radio stations the picture is not brighter. I'm all over the internet, constantly viewing radio station web sites and listening to programming. Little of it carries a "wow" factor. Most replicate the jukebox-on-steroids approach that's been in place since the late 1990s. None, to my knowledge, offers advertisers ROI data they can easily get through advertising on many other web sites.
Serving "impressions" remains a main objective for stations, for advertisers, while delivering music is still the means to collect audience. The former is outdated. The latter is so pervasive in today's world that it carries little weight.
And here's where the radio industry falls down the hardest: Fragmentation of audio's audience is reaching a point whereby we're guaranteeing that few online stations will gather enough listeners to make a difference - there are too many stations.
Just what is done with data in either radio industry platform, be it online or broadcast? Arbitron won't release numbers of non-subscribing stations, so we have no way of calculating a market's radio leaders. Triton Digital's Webcast Metrics only presents a portion of whatever is in the online radio universe, so attempting to piecemeal a picture of how radio is doing online is impossible.
Like thousands of cats running in different directions, herding the industry towards one direction seems unworkable. Radio claims superior programs yet does not give evidence
to support those claims. "Voice tracking improves quality of programs" is often heard at the same time "radio is local." Is this any way to run a media in today's technologically advanced world?
I dislike using these metaphors but the genie is out of the bottle; the horse has left the barn. Radio's MBA leaders - who do not understand the complexities of building audio programming that is truly "compelling" - have led the industry to a state of denial in both degenerative content and as an accountable ad platform.
As an indication of a lack of desire to hear from the troops, try finding a way to comment on any story at Clear Channel-owned "Inside Radio
." Other radio trade mags also either totally lack this now-common online element, or remove it when running a contentious article.
When the radio industry was but one of three media, it was as powerful a communication tool as ever created. Thrown into a mix of unlimited choice, though, the radio industry (again, online and off) is now in waters too deep for it to swim and too complex to easily navigate.
Want the true direction of the radio industry? It's wrapped in one sentence in this "Back in Black" segment
on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" (appearing at about the 1:00 mark in the video).
Quoting Lewis Black's sarcastic punchline: "...because nothing says we're on the cutting edge of 21st century business like an ad on the radio!"
Today's indie artist introduction is to...
We listen for songs that evoke emotion; fast, slow, female, male, group, it doesn't matter. When an artist has the power to please, they should be given a chance to be heard.
Give Chiwawa's "Don't Twist My Mind" a listen
Add it to your playlist, free!
Such is the new world of music distribution.
It's time internet radio programmers reach into a huge pile of untapped talent.
It is here where new hit songs will increasingly be found.