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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Why Do You Keep Asking That Question?

"Is radio ready for a digital future?"

It's a question that has had high visibility over the last six weeks.

"Is radio ready for a digital future?"

It's been the title of a Bridge Ratings Study that was released on June 30, 2010.

And the title of a webinar I presented in July.

So, why did I give the title to this blog and why should you care?

Because after six weeks of disseminating this data across the web and in person, I'm finally ready to answer the question for you.

This was the most important graphic from the study and my webinar:

[click image to go to study]

This chart represents just how well terrestrial radio is satisfying radio listeners' Internet needs.

Not too good. (Pardon my grammar, mom)

The answer to the question is....

No. Radio is not ready.


Though its perception among radio listeners is poor, radio has all it needs to make it right.

Radio is having a good year. That's what I read and that is what market managers tell me.

Why not reinvest some of that new profit into the cost of setting up a qualified digital department?

Remember the story of the squirrel storing his nuts for a cold winter?

That's what radio's owners and operators are doing. Very few are taking the new found (and temporary) flushness and sinking it back into the product where it needs it.

Radio is gathering its profit nuts after a dismal 2009.

Who can blame them?

But still, the industry has the money to make some effort to build out a respectable digital division.

It can hire the right people.

It probably has the right equipment.

If it doesn't have the know-how, it can hire that, too.

So, if all of this is true, why does radio management avoid making the commitment?
Because it takes courage!

Yet, COURAGE is precipitated by a perceived threat. That's what Daniel Webster tells me.

So, "this must be it", I think to myself. This is why the industry as a whole is not moving itself forward fast enough.

No courage.

Because there is NO PERCEIVED THREAT.

And despite the fact that the threat is clear from digital entertainment options, by the time terrestrial radio perceives the threat and act, it will be too late.

The industry does have its handful of owner/operators who are investing as they are able.

And, for that, I am grateful.

But, it's the industry that is the concern.

Time is running out and the radio industry's place may well be marginalized by this time next year.

So, there. Asked. And answered.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Hey Dave,

Totally love the "perceived threat" observation. It's EXACTLY right.

You're spot on about courage.

But it's only a part of the answer, I believe. The other part is "having a plan."

Give them a PLAN, and if it's logical and feasible, courage will come more easily.

Music radio, in my view anyway, needs to expand the definition of its role.

The way I see it, today, it's "to provide primarily background music with occasional voiceovers."

What they should add to this is "to actively guide the listeners in a process of music discovery."

But since "discovery" actually imples a LOT of work (if you wish to discover REALLY GOOD stuff!), then, initially, their plan should be "find a good place to outsource discovery, and then promote it as our own."

One such source is - of course - Fame Games Radio ( But, presumably, there are others where quality filtering is top priority.

The next part of the plan would have to be "Monetizing their LOCAL following." Again, Fame Games has excellent ideas for doing just that - but there must be others too.

They will monetize their local markets IF they ENGAGE them.

One way to engage them is by DISCOVERING the LOCAL talent. Then by promoting that local talent. Then by putting people together (artists, venues, fans) - exactly the way Fame Games is now proposing.

And the station can be the HUB for all that.

Lotsa luv :) xx paul