Current Issue:

Current Issue

On The Cover:
Cumulus Chairman Jeff Marcus

Click here to subscribe to Radio Ink.

Radio Ink Writers

Here's Why You Should Take Digital Seriously.

by Jay Clark

Saga's decision to suspend ad-insertion has me thinking about the bigger picture; sticks verses new media. I've been an audio-product guy all my life, from programming WTKS-FM, one of the first successful FM talk stations in the country, to heading up the programming department as Executive Vice President at Sirius Satellite Radio. Those of you who know me, understand that I've been lucky to be on the cutting edge of our business, and have delivered listeners and advertisers without breaking the bank. The product radio is delivering via the stream is not something we should be proud of.

We all know that the use of new media, social media, portable media with smart phones etc. has grown and will continue to grow at an alarming rate. We also know that, for the first time in history, all of this is available in the automobile, our previous bastion of security. As EVP of Sirius, I along with Lee Abrams at XM, were the first to infringe on radio's live programming, in-car monopoly, but Sirius/XM is a paid-subscriber-based model, unlike what is facing us now. To add insult to injury, the cost of streamed music rights is too high to make economic sense. This needs to be dealt with and a compromise made sooner than later. That said, I strongly believe that new media is important to our future and that we have to be in this business.

Unfortunately much of the product I've heard on radio websites and through iHeartRadio, is embarrassing. With no ax to grind, I must say it is not the fault of computers or available equipment, it's the fault of us. Us, radio folks, not taking the job of serving our listeners and advertisers seriously by not investing in the future. I can hear it now! "So few go to our website that the receptionist, or some other employee who has more on his or her plate than they can deal with, can handle this." Then, we tell our advertisers they also have to be on our website, or radio app. That brings me to sales.

Have we hired more sales personnel? Do we have a sales manager who understands that Web or phone app audio advertising is different? Have we bothered to institute new media sales training? This is not brain surgery, this is just good business. I also ask the same questions regarding product. Have we hired more staff to assure that our new media is up to date? Have we given our on-air staff, and/or producers video cameras, told them they must file on a regular basis, and showed them how to create decent video? Do we have people in the building assigned to be sure that blogs are written and sound from the morning show is up and taken down in a timely manner? Is there a manager of new media content for your cluster?

As broadcasters, we need an attitude adjustment. Our sticks still work and many of us still have solid brands that enjoy large core audiences. We should be using our over-the-air signals as barkers for our new media product. (Clear Channel is doing a decent job of this to bolster iHeartRadio.) We cannot expect even our core listeners to continue to believe in us if we constantly lie to them! Inviting our existing audience to a website, stream, or app by telling them how great it is, or how it will help them in their daily lives and then giving them less-than-great product loses confidence and loyalty.

Younger listeners in particular can smell deception and will not put up with it for long. To not put thought, some extra dollars, time, and staff into assuring that these audio outlets represent our sound, look, and image, is a fool's errand. Another thought: Utilize or hire some younger employees. Give them reasonable guidelines and goals, take their suggestions, and let them be part of the overall team. If you get the right people, it's not that expensive and you'll probably learn something.

I understand debt service. I understand what the economy has done to our business. I certainly understand the need to make a buck. Many of my friends are out of a job, so I know that times are tight and investors are uneasy. I also understand that without an investment -- over and above the aforementioned rights fees, which I agree is a barrier -- we stand to eventually not have a bottom line. Remember, horses to cars, trains to planes, new technology needs to be acknowledged. It won't go away, let's let history be our guide.

Reach out to Jay about his thoughts via e-mail at

(9/22/2012 3:20:14 AM)
It may sound strange but my company has it already figured out for you. We would love to have everyone find out what and how we are going to ease terrestrial into the digital future. We are looking for a few *key* adopters/influencers right this second. We were the people who invented and built DG Systems and we have a whole new solution that works. So you can relax and get back to doing what you do best; Radio.

- Robin
(9/13/2012 1:05:44 PM)
B844Mk <a href="">lwkkaxebtrsr</a>, [url=]rwcjnquyfskd[/url], [link=]xcqogljzrcbc[/link],

(8/31/2012 11:06:07 AM)
Great piece, Jay. Here's hoping someone pays attention before it's too late...which it almost is.

- Tom Leykis
(8/31/2012 10:30:34 AM)
Technology and programming are not at odds, let alone at war.

- Patrick Reynolds
(8/30/2012 10:22:27 PM)
Great read. Couldn't agree more, if you're lucky enough to be on the air as a personality, you have to deliver when telling your listenership how great you are digitally. You can't lose their trust

- David Caudillo

Add a Comment | View All Comments


Send This Story To A Friend