Radio Is Not Entitled To The Dashboard
By Keith Berman
The back-and-forth over Eric Rhoads' column on radio's potential disappearance from the auto dashboard omits a very large portion of the argument: whether AM/FM radio actually still deserves a place in the dash, according to consumers and manufacturers. Radio has been a staple of in-car entertainment for so long that perhaps the industry feels it has earned the right to permanent real estate, but like any relationship where one party becomes complacent and the other party sees appealing options abound, nothing should be taken for granted.
Given the multitude of entertainment options that now surround AM/FM radio, people may or may not listen to the radio simply because it's there, much like the lack of guarantee that viewers will tune into broadcast TV networks with the hundreds of offerings from basic and premium cable channels that have evolved over the past decade or so. The issue facing radio is twofold: one is radio's perception of itself, and the other is what consumers actually look for in terms of content.
The first, radio's perception of itself, has to do with the marketing campaign that radio has enacted, proclaiming itself to be necessary and vital simply due to its position as “live and local.” But is that really the case anymore? In many situations, voicetracking and syndication have made that claim moot. Merely having a transmitter in a city doesn't make you local; if that were the case, Sirius XM could proclaim it's local too because of its ground repeaters (an aspect of its technology that AM/FM radio vehemently protested).
Stations can say they're live and local all they want, but when they're running syndicated or voicetracked talent and the only thing live and/or local are the spots and occasional local cut-ins, there's not much local material distinguishing your product from another station hundreds of miles away airing the same show. If radio wants to make the case that it's necessary to the dashboard because it's live and local, then every station needs to have jocks in-studio 24/7 providing relevant, timely and local content, not just claim or pretend that they are.
The other aspect is whether consumers actually care about having live and local content. Does it matter to a listener that the show they're listening to is beamed in from hundreds of miles away if it's good content that they enjoy? Every weekday morning, local TV stations run syndicated morning shows like "Today" or "Good Morning America," and no one seems to argue that TV stations aren't "serving their local broadcast base" by airing a show from New York with occasional local traffic/weather/news cut-ins. The content is what matters to viewers.
We're living in a world where content is freely available from a huge number of sources worldwide thanks to the Internet, so people can seek out whatever they want to see or hear the most, making it a top priority for broadcast media to provide quality material, regardless of where it's from. If radio wants to deliver the best content possible in order to draw listeners — and that content happens to be from another market, then radio needs to embrace that and be the conduit for the most engaging content, but not pretend that it's coming from that particular station's studios.
As Fred Jacobs replied, this is radio's game to lose. The industry can either provide appealing content that consumers want and keep its longstanding place in the dashboard based on its own merits, or it can dither around and perhaps lose center-square placement to other options that consumers find more attractive.
Keith Berman is a former editor of Radio & Records and co-founder of RAMP: Radio and Music Pros. The opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect those of any current or former employer. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Keith on Facebook www.facebook.com/keithberman
(3/14/2013 5:38:27 PM) |
Tough week for me. A few days ago, I learned I was, apparently, "unemployed". Now I am informed I am a "one hit wonder". So, before the truth comes out, I confess to getting my driver's license in a Crackerjack box.
None of this is relative to the discussion. My email is open. Take me on there.
|- Ronald T. Robinson|
(3/14/2013 10:51:14 AM) |
You are the most negative “one hit wonder” I have every seen. You need to move away from Canada to a warmer climate or lay off the moose head and Yukon jack before you post.
(3/14/2013 6:51:20 AM) |
Even as this topic winds down, it should be noted that all the mewling and whining is as a result of ownership letting radio dwindle to the point of almost irrelevance in the minds of audiences.
Sure, almost everybody tunes in to some degree. But we are all suspicious and concerned about the intensity of listening going on.
Are the folks really paying attention - all the time, or is radio just a familiar white noise in the background? We already know the answer.
I mean, are audiences really pulling over to write down the very, very, very important advertiser phone numbers? Are they also hanging on to, cherishing and being nourished by every word coming out of "Donny"?
We already know the answer to that one, too.
"By the way, mirror, mirror on the wall... please bull***t me, if you can."
|- Ronald T. Robinson|
(3/13/2013 2:13:03 PM) |
All means of communication should be included in the dash so we the listeners have all choices we want at any time and at any place.
|- Henning Bjerre|
(3/13/2013 10:35:08 AM) |
Gone are the days when most stations had large news rooms and beat reporters. Yeah, so what that they simulcasted during hurricane Sandy. The real question is, WHO WAS ONLINE? No one! Get it? Internet down. Cable down. Phone down. Mobile down. If they were silly enough to not have a battery powered radio, no doubt they were using radio chips in their cell phones or sitting in their cars getting a local broadcaster update. Terrestrial isn't going anywhere.
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