December 1, 2015

Publishers' Notes


Subscribe To Daily  Headlines

Streamline Press

Industry Q&A

Radio Revenue

Market Profile

Calendar of Events

Reader Feedback


About Us

Contact Us





08/01/05 An Exciting Proposition

In the 1940s and '50s, my grandfather and father were in the refrigeration and meat-slicer business. Their primary customer was the corner grocery story, which had all of its refrigerated items in glass meat cases. When customers wanted some meat, they told the man behind the counter what they wanted. He pulled it out of the case, sliced it, wrapped it, weighed it, priced it, and handed it to the customer. But almost over night, the fundamentals of their business changed, and they had to reinvent. One day, people were going to the corner grocery store, and the next day, they were going to the new supermarket. Suddenly, the customer could grab prepackaged meat from an open meat refrigerator. Sales of closed-glass refrigerated cases and meat slicers came to an instant halt.

I'm not sure how much research one could have done to determine that glass-meat refrigeration cases would disappear. If a focus group asked customers if they would prefer self-selection of meats, they probably would have said no - yet, some brilliant entrepreneur followed his gut and revolutionized the grocery business.

Countless hours of my life are spent living outside of reality (just ask my wife!) to try to figure out the future. I spend a significant portion of my time reading everything I can get my hands on - newspapers, journals, websites, blogs, and books seeking clues into the future of business, media, and radio. I attend as many non-radio conferences as my schedule permits, mostly conferences related to new technology and trends. One thing I have learned is that the most important, life-changing developments usually are not what has been predicted, and most are a result of the convergence of several developments or technological innovations. Maybe radio's future does not lie in the development of the iPod, or of WiMax or satellite radio; maybe it comes with the convergence of the three? My guess is that the killer app for radio convergence is yet to be reveled.

Some say iPods are the future, with Apple projections at 200 million iPods in 10 years. Some say WiMax (wireless) distribution of radio will be our future, now that every city in the U.S. will be wired. Others believe it to be cell phones, telematics, and satellite radios. Recent focus group studies say broadcast radio will remain strong and constant. But, if the radio equivalent of the supermarket comes along, will radio change overnight? You bet.

Radio has amazing power, amazing reach, amazing distribution, and amazing daily listenership. It's hard to fathom the possibility that all of that could disappear as fast as people switched from local grocery stores to supermarkets, or from bank lines to ATMs. No one in the grocery business believed it was possible either.

This is an exciting time for radio, and a great time to be in this business. I don't look upon these developments as threats, but as opportunity. For the first time in years, radio companies are paying attention to innovation and change. Companies like Apple realize what we've got and want a piece of it. Radio is about to be hotter than ever. We've already got what they want: 94 percent of Americans each week!

When supermarkets emerged, people did not stop eating - they simply changed how they bought their food. Radio serves a great purpose, and people will always listen if it's entertaining, relevant, and salient in their lives. They won't stop listening to radio; they may just get it delivered in a different way and a different flavor. To me, that's an exciting proposition, and a world of opportunity for everyone in this business.

Comment on this story

  From the Publisher 

<P> </P>