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December 22, 2014

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08/07/06 Making Radio Take A Giant Leap Forward

Imagine if radio were a new media being launched today, in the frenzy of podcasts, satcasts, phonecasts, wi-fi, and Internet radio. Would it measure up? Would radio be as sexy, as cutting edge? If your goal were to launch this new device to upstage these other technologies, what would you do, what would you say? How would you match and exceed their buzz?

Obviously, we don't have the new technology advantage. The advantage we have is that we're ubiquitous; virtually every household in America has at least one radio (the average is 5.5 per household), as does every car. We may not be cool in the eyes of those in the new technology world - who keep telling consumers they're better than radio - and yet we're the medium everyone wants to steal market share from. But market share is not enough. GM and Ford had market share until Japanese automakers started making better cars, and GM and Ford did not respond to those challenges. When Sanyo Corporation's CEO wanted to take his company to the next level, he gathered his key executives together and told them that incremental change was not sufficient. He directed his people to come up with innovations, and take Sanyo products a giant leap ahead of their best competitors. When all products are the same, they become a commodity, but when they are significantly better, you gain market share in spite of price.

Believing radio will remain strong because everyone has a radio is not enough. We have to explore how radio can become more relevant to a younger, tech-savvy generation. HD Radio addresses the technology side, but what should radio do to address content?

Radio listening remains strong, and therefore it may appear as if these outside threats are nothing to be concerned about. Yet, if we awaken to find an entire generation has ignored us, our future could be in question.

As we reinvent, we need to not only look at content, but we need to explore the Sanyo strategy. What can radio do to take a giant leap ahead of other media? What can radio do to create such a buzz that it will become the darling of the press, and the passion of consumers? If we can find these answers (and we will), these other challengers won't stand a chance. But reinvention has to be more than yet another variation on Bill Drake's 1960s high rotation formats, and it has to be more than new ways of marketing our existing industry. Reinvention must be dramatic and relevant to today.

What would you do?


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