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A Cold, Harsh Reality For Radio

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(3/18/2013 10:01:56 AM)   Flag as inappropriate content
Radio is suffering from the same mindset that is making newspapers obsolete: lack of addressability. Until broadcasters and manufacturers commit to using relatively low-tech engineering to allow the tailoring of commercial messaging to demographic sub-audiences, the attrition will continue. Who needs to listen to hours of irrelevant messaging when so many non-commercial options exist. And nobody is worse served by the antiquated model than the advertisers.
- Piper Stevens
(3/18/2013 8:43:06 AM)   Flag as inappropriate content
I don't think that conventional radio will ever really go away, but I do think that things are changing, with internet and satellite radio rising up. Also, I don't think terrestrial radio really gives me the options that I want with all their restrictive playlists and other restrictions.
- Shemp9971
(3/17/2013 8:32:24 PM)   Flag as inappropriate content
Keep this in mind. Digital (internet, satellite & HD) all have to pay PERFORMANCE fees to artists, record companies, etc.) ... over-the-air radio stations don't. These are HUGEMONGUS expensive and arbitrary fees providers will have a difficult problem that AM/FM radio will have funding. Many over-the-air stations abandoned simulcasting over the internet for this reason.

People are CHEAP ... they are simply NOT willing to pay for radio ... a lesson XM and Sirius learned the hard way. What is more likely is that iPods, cell phones and other streaming players will rule the day and the next generation of cars will have bluetooth and line inputs where the customer provides his own content source.


- Tony
(3/13/2013 10:24:59 AM)   Flag as inappropriate content
Radio Adds More than 1.6 Million Weekly Listeners, According to the RADAR March 2013 Report. The body of the report says that "teens aged 12 to 17 shows the largest gains among the major age demographics". Epic fail, Chicken Little. You stir the pot and scare us so we read about this "crisis" on your website and feed your ego. Where is your integrity? Are you a cheerleader for radio or not? Instead of reporting on Viacom's study, you should be well armed with facts to roundly disprove it.
- Mike
(3/11/2013 9:11:23 PM)   Flag as inappropriate content
There are two things that will if not stop this dead in it's tracks, greatly limit it's progress.
1, available bandwidth. Presently in Australia, with a population of 23 million people, the 3G networks are at peak capacity. So I can only wonder what the situation is like in the US.
2, add to this concerns about pricing. If you are a subscriber to Pandora or Spotify you would have to start to consider whether it is actually viable, as you are paying for bandwith and paying fees on these services.

- Lee Anderson
(3/11/2013 6:55:59 PM)   Flag as inappropriate content
After Phil Abram of GM's outright denial of plans to drop in-dash am/fm radio, I'd suggest that RadioInk do better due diligence on their "experts" who will make up RadioInk's next conference.
Total hogwash, but the false fire alarm did serve to flush out some anti-radio malcontents and their dead wrong predictions.

- Mel
(3/11/2013 3:10:31 PM)   Flag as inappropriate content

I just read your piece about AM and FM leaving the dash of cars and I have some observations.

A few years ago, I opined that the end of music as a radio format is nigh. Between ASCAP, BMI, SEASAC, Soundexchange and the record industry’s jihad on profitability and the fact that technology is rapidly rendering the “program director” obsolete, how many variants of country and rock can there be which will attract listeners. (For that matter, can you ever again imagine a circumstance where Mr. Carlson would take some cocaine from a morning DJ on the take?)

At the time, people told me I was nuts and that music will continue to be the format of choice.

If what you are reporting is actually the case, I see two things happening.

First, the number of local radio stations will rapidly decrease as the jukeboxes become less and less relevant and thus economically non viable.

Second, those of us who are actually in the local content creation business will have some additional opportunities.

Clear Channel and Sirius have already given away the store in their pursuit of peace in our time with the record industry so I don’t see anything but grief on the horizon when it comes to royalties of all types.

So it looks as if we will have to create relevant content and then distribute it over as many platforms as we can master from am and fm to the web to smartphones and tablets and perhaps, devices which have yet to be built and sold.

One thing we do need to do is to get the FCC to recognize smartphones and tablets and other as yet unborn but similar devices which get their signals out of the air as radio receivers for contractual purposes. I say this because many networks are simply going to bypass local stations on the internet and I would certainly want the negotiating position of telling them they cannot compete with me in my local market. They may choose to go around me but they may not.

An example of that is NASCAR. I used to own the official radio station of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Once we learned that about 50% of the 150,000 people in the stands had a radio tuned to our station on race day, that fact became a potent selling point for the broadcast. Today, NASCAR distributes a smartphone app which, for $25 a year, allows you to get the network radio broadcast without the benefit of my commercials. Were I still the owner of that station, I would certainly negotiate with the Performance Racing Network (which I still maintain a great relationship with) to allow me to cover the local breaks on those feeds which go through the smartphone app.

Given the ability of a network to insert local spots in satellite feeds, local stations should be demanding the same kind of network compensation we used to get from NBC and CBS (when they were actually NBC and CBS) even in the smallest markets. I know of markets where Tractor Supply and Home Depot have pulled their spots from the local station because they get split copy spots from the long form programmers. The thought occurs that if the local station is not getting anything from local advertisers and the money is going to a programmer, then perhaps it is time to renegotiate the deal.

And part of that renegotiation should start with the internet feed.

ESPN seems to want to replicate its dual revenue stream business model (advertising sales and operator income) on radio. And they pitch in almost every break. Either they’re looking ahead to the day that nobody listens to them on a local radio station or the operators are so desperate for ESPN that they’ll put up with a national programmer leaching away their listeners over the long haul while they pay for the privilege.

What’s wrong with that picture?

The long haul answer is probably a mix of solutions. First, fewer signals. That will take care of itself as operators go broke with the wrong business models. Second, more innovative and local content. That will take some imagination from people who are still standing. Third, innovative agreements that make sense between national and local operators such as network compensation or local splits on national internet feeds of programs. And, fourth, some technological innovations together with some changes in the main studio rules to acknowledge that the FCC cannot make intelligent staffing decisions for commercial radio stations.

If AM and FM were to disappear from car dashboards, we should be able to send our content on alternate routes. But something tells me that if we keep our content relevant, the protest among car buyers will be so strong that it won’t happen in our lifetimes.

Fred Weinberg

- Fred Weinberg

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