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Wednesday, August 5, 2014

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Radio Industry Needs Viagra

One of the telling signs the radio industry is running limp comes from reading radio industry trades. Only a few matter to those in the business, ones that impact day-to-day operations. They are tied together through careful construction of story lines which nearly always slant to a "radio is moving forward in digital" perspective.
"No matter how you twist this story, those old white men who didn't listen when people were saying beware of digital are now starting to worry about a growing impotence."

Clear Channel-owned Inside Radio is a strong contender for Audio Graphics' "Pravda Award" for the reporting of stories in a way that does the least amount of damage to its owner's core business.

Inside Radio seldom carries words of how radio has improved or how it can improve. Instead we see a stream similar to today's headline of "Americans are in connected car slow lane." In classic IR reporting come these words: "It also finds four in ten drivers are ambivalent about streaming radio in the car." Giving this topic a sense of urgency, let's rewrite it as "6 in ten drivers show interest in streaming radio in the car."

Radio Ink does the best job of reporting ups and downs, though it's soft when discussing the real problems facing radio. My questions revolve around why RI gives a priority on the past, such as its featured "Blast from the Past" photos. The past has no place in a world that's moving so quickly into the future.

Frankly, what radio did is not as important as what it's not doing in digital.

One Radio Ink story titled "(DASH) WHAT HAPPENED TO MY RADIO?" by Steven Goldstein, Exec. VP at Saga Communications, is - in short - a WTF? Sorry, Mr. Goldstein, but if this discovery is only now coming to light, you're 10 years behind tech savvy people who have been warning radio this day would come. It's only going to get worse between now and 2020.

To explain the above in a few words: Stroking execs seems imperative to companies that make so much revenue from conventions.

There are other radio trades, though none come to mind that influence movement within the industry as the two above. Most report publicity releases verbatim, if not close to it. None rattle the cages of executive suits with facts supporting a demise in interest for radio by youth.

Presentation of articles on education doesn't appear with any frequency - though All Access does a good job trying. Its instructions on joining digital aren't finding their way into the daily routines of stations, possibly because there's no follow-up to presented concepts.

RAIN has made the best movement to educate and report what's needed. The industry needs to give it more support and follow its lead more closely. I'll give you the fact that Kurt Hanson published the first "selfie" 14 years ago, if that will convince you there's a "lead-not-follow" mindset at RAIN.

Away from radio publications, look at RAB - it's doing as much good for the industry as Congress is doing for America today. Its "10 Reasons to Advertise" page is easily questioned with, "How many radio station advertisements have you seen this week?"

If an industry that's in the business of selling advertising fails to advertise, what's that tell you?

RAB still hasn't picked up the clue that "reasons" for using radio aren't wrapped around radio's reach but what it does for the advertiser. Visit online sales companies for examples: Google AdWords and are good places to start. Both have instructions on "how" to advertise online, not how many people you will reach. And notice how the latter carries a domain name showing what it does? While RAB offers "WhyRadio," don't look under the domain of - RAB doesn't own that. Why not?

Digital delivery of audio doesn't appear as sexy to the radio industry as to a growing number of consumers, either. Let me give you facts from Audio Graphics' RadioRow analytics.

In the preceding thirty days (July 5-August 4) over the past 5 years, here's the breakout of listening to radio stations via desktop, mobile and tablet:
Desktop Mobile Tablet
2010 97.3% 2.6% na
2011 92.7% 7.2% na
2012 83.6% 14.0% 2.3%
2013 70.3% 25.5% 4.0%
2014 59.3% 36.0% 4.5%

This shift comes as we are constantly reminded by Jeff Smulyan how his "NextRadio" is the radio industry's future in mobile delivery. How to achieve this is not through consumer demand, but from paying a phone service provider $5 million a year to place the NextRadio app inside a limited number of cellphones.

Referencing the positive-for-radio slant explained at the top of this article, we get reports on downloads, not usage, because even if it's in a cellphone, the app doesn't give accountability on how many downloaded apps are used! (How's this for a headline? "Are You a Rarity? Only 16% of People Will Try Out an App More Than Twice.")

What's needed is a very large dose of Viagra for the radio industry, something that will get it back to its previous self and keep it there (hopefully longer than 4 hours).

No matter how you twist this story, those old white men who didn't listen when people were saying beware of digital are now starting to worry about a growing impotence.

In today's world, talking about what you are going to do - as is often the case with radio - is not as important as showing them how you're doing with what you've got.

For radio, it just may be too late to rise to previous levels of performance.

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Today's indie introduction is to...
Jazz artist Deborah Resto
sample song
Let Him Hear My Heart/B>

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When an artist has the power to please they should be given a chance to be heard.

Give Deborah Resto's "Let Him Hear My Heart" a listen.

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