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Thursday, September 20, 2012
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The Radio Industry Needs...

Normally, being the day after Triton Digital released its Webcast Metrics this discussion would be about it. Today it won't because: a) not much has changed in the rankings; b) a couple of other issues hold priority. (If you want to download a free Audio Graphics-compiled data set of the August Webcast Metrics, go here. Receivers, sit tight, your copy will be emailed in a few hours.)

Now, about those other items to discuss. We'll keep this as short as possible, offering that the genesis of this was posted at Radio Ink. I'm sure you've heard of the not-secret "secret meeting" at Radio Show 2012. Ed Ryan did an excellent job of sizing up this get-together. Eric Rhoads does a great job of explaining its problems.

"Radio is long past the stage of uncovering an industry unique digital approach. That should have been worked on a decade ago." My only comment is that the digital world moves at lightning speed, in different directions for different companies. No one approach is going to work for everyone, anymore than it did in the days of LMiV, and mining digital information in a meeting like this is inefficient (try asking a question containing proprietary information).

Tied almost directly to the reasoning of "why" a group of companies are meeting is one startling set of words by RAIN's Kurt Hanson, uttered in his "State of the Industry" address the previous day ( at"RAIN Summit Dallas 2012"). His comment caught me off-guard, but shows exactly why the radio industry has this digital problem.

Listen to Kurt at Soundcloud. Around the 1:15 mark in his speech this question is asked: " many of you work for one of the AM/FM broadcast companies?" Before getting to the answer, let's address that there were approximately 250 attendees, panelists, and sponsors at this event. Knowing this, how much more surprising is it to find that the answer to how many were from "AM/FM broadcast companies" was "...a dozen of you."

Not to bulge Kurt's head but this is the premier event for gaining knowledge about what's happening online with radio, and there are "about a dozen" broadcasters in attendance? Out of 250 attendees! That's a whopping 4.8%. (Actually, "pitiful" is a better word than "whopping.")

You have two signs of despair here: that which shows how little desire there is to learn about new media for radio, and a meeting of people who know little about digital and are listening to (some) digital people explain how they can build a solution. Grasp the former and you get a sense of the size of this digital hole radio is in. Understand the latter and you'll see why people with no knowledge of digital - disguised as radio industry executives - simply cannot comprehend their digital options.

There are too many digital avenues to travel, and there are too many people in that room who will pretend to understand what was said. They will leave more confused than when they arrived.

Radio is long past the stage of uncovering an industry unique digital approach. That should have been worked on a decade ago.

Truth be told there are dozens of online audio companies that will soon become an extreme irritant to radio industry execs, who feel now is the time to rally the wagons.

PDD (Post Digital Dashboard) survivors will be companies that call in experts to examine their digital options, define a path suiting their company, take action on their own, and don't worry about trying to reach consensus with other groups.

Committees are good for arguing, stalling, and pointing fingers - and all that was in the meeting room was a "committee" of radio people looking for answers.

What radio industry executives need is to invite individuals who know new media into each group's headquarters and begin the long process of uncovering the remaining online voids. My hint is that there are fewer each day.

At this late stage, attempting to circumvent new audio competitors for listeners and advertisers is an "every man for himself" proposition.

Radio waited too long to take action in mass, and this is the price you pay for delay.

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