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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

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Radio Problem: Reminisce Like It's 1999


It hurts watching an industry in denial. To hear stats proclaiming everything is fine yet view data saying there's a negative trend gaining steam is hurtful - especially to those who love the creative, bigger-than-life, once highly-respected media of radio.

Boasting of being the go-to info center in emergencies has to end. This talk is next to facts as recent as the past earthquake in San Fransisco showing it's not. (Most SF radio stations stuck with playing music.) In other emergencies, stations have gone off-air from damage.
"Radio is paying Sprint to go along with the deal, while other major carriers are ignoring what NextRadio represents (a drain on revenue)."

This is not 1999 when radio was but a few media selections. Today's array of choice, against a denigrating quality of radio content, is more problematic than anyone admits.

Remember HD Radio? (This is usually read in radio trades as "HD Radio is quickly growing.") Stations-between-stations never came to be in the way it was promised.

Let's also point to NextRadio because it's taking the place of what HD Radio represented when being introduced. It shares the same poorly-executed marketing creative and purpose. Radio on cellphones has been available for years; nobody noticed.

Revisit one other radio chest-thumbing: Remember LMiV? Started by Dole Rose, then President of Emmis, in the same "savior-to-radio" style as Jeff Smylun is giving NextRadio, it's an emblem of the problem.

Quoting Dole Rose (with LMiV) on the creation of a consortium of radio companies that gathered to fight a new beast called the internet: "With these companies' combined audience of 100 million listeners and links to their local stations sites, the portal will be a formidable competitor to the likes of Yahoo! and Amazon.com."

LMiV folded 18 months after launch. The reason: Radio had "...not learned...how to use the Internet to its advantage." This is still true. So is this: Radio executives speak about what they are going to become, while the public is looking for what you are to them now.

NextRadio is a solution for a problem that doesn't exist, just like HD Radio. It's being pushed by one company in hopes of getting all radio companies on board; it won't.

Radio is paying Sprint to go along with the deal while other major carriers are ignoring what NextRadio represents (a drain on revenue).

Is there anyone who believes that Sprint would be activating the FM chip if radio wasn't giving it $15 million? Does anyone in radio understand the meager penetration of NextRadio over its life?

Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan is claiming in a Radio Ink article that "...NextRadio is the only answer. It solves every problem." Like LMiV, it does not. Won't ever. The "problem" that the radio industry refuses to change is still not being addressed.

NextRadio is not going to make radio "cool again." It's offering what dozens of online audio sources have been working on for years, albeit through an FM chip that requires second-party participation. (Keep in mind Google's move of trying to help radio in 2006. How did that work out?)

It's not 1999. Content is not King in the manner it once was; it's too prevalent and easily gotten. Besides, the competition's content has its own value not shared by radio.

Regardless of statistically extrapolated numbers heard at NAB/RAB in Indianapolis this week, the difference is today's advertising currency is turning to hard sets of numbers and definitive ROI.

Bottom line: The radio industry has had opportunities and missed them each time. "We reach 92% of Americans each week" doesn't matter in a world of big data.

NextRadio is going to end up like LMiV. Give it 18 months and then read the usage data. No matter how it's twisted, the numbers will remain miniscule.

For radio - without solid change amid the new dashboard configurations - the good times are over.








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Today's indie introduction is to...
Country artist Houston Bernard
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Fine Ol' Time

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