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April 18, 2014

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First Mediaworks


02/21/05 How Not to Respond to Satellite
I remember the counter-arguments well:

“AM stands for ALL MUSIC… for AMERICAN MUSIC. AM radio is where America hears music first.”
“FM radio is unproven, a fad. FM plays album cuts — and no one wants to hear album cuts. FM broadcasts in stereo, but no one has stereo speakers. Your car has only one speaker, so FM radio sounds no different than AM in your car. And most hit records weren’t recorded in stereo, so FM offers no advantage.”

“Automakers have no plans to put FM radio in cars, so the only way to pick up FM will be with an unsightly FM converter. Few people own an FM radio, and most people never will. FM was designed to play elevator music. Rock ’n’ roll does not belong on FM; in fact, it may even be illegal.”
“AM radio goes where you go long after the FM signal has faded. When you think radio, think AM radio — the only true radio medium.”

Believe it or not, AM broadcasters ran ads like these in an attempt to steer consumers away from the FM dial. In hindsight, these arguments seem absurd.

So why are we doing it again?

From coast to coast, broadcast radio is airing silly ads to remind America that “radio is great.” This is obviously a knee-jerk reaction to Wall Street perceptions that satellite radio is gaining momentum as broadcast radio continues to founder. You and I both believe deeply in broadcast radio; do we really think a PR campaign is needed right now?

When e-mail was gaining momentum, the post office ran a campaign about the value of receiving a letter. Have we become as out of touch as the post office?

FM overtook AM by remedying AM radio’s perceived weaknesses: goofy, announcer-like deejays, too many commercials, scratchy signal. The satellite radio people are doing the same: offering a remedy to the “too many commercials” complaint and adding variety through format experimentation. Satellite radio is capitalizing on consumer perceptions rooted in years of listener frustration.

Radio can overcome the challenges of satellite radio, but these sad little ad campaigns won’t do anything but drive the wedge deeper between us and our listeners. The solution is to reinvent radio for a new generation with a whole new mindset. If satellite radio overtakes broadcast radio, it won’t be due to superior technology. We have, for now, an infinitely bigger infrastructure and vastly superior market penetration.

To stay on top, all we need to do is begin giving our listeners what they want.
But will we?




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