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October 22, 2014

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7/10/00 On The Sidelines Or Out Of The Game?
The summer has been filled with announcements from dozens of Internet companies who are openly and aggressively planning to take Radio away from us. These companies have calmly announced that they will eat our lunch and then kick our lunchbox down the street. Studies from major investment banking firms are already touting broadband media as the possible demise of transmitter media in America. MTV is using the power of parent company Viacom/CBS to convert Radio listeners to Sonicnet, a new service that allows listeners to program their own stations. Oracle, Intel and other major players have announced plans to launch their own media portals that will include similar Radio offerings.
I don't want to be harsh, but anyone who doesn't believe these things will hurt traditional transmitter Radio is simply living in a fool's paradise. Lowry Mays and Mel Karmazin and the other 38 people on this year's list are not fools. I cannot and do not believe that they will sit on the sidelines. I believe they will be in the game. It only remains to be seen exactly how Lowry and Mel and the other 38 will respond. But I do wish they would hurry. We're running out of time.
If Radio goes down the tubes, it will be because you and I were too much in love with our FCC licenses and our 1940's-technology transmitters. If we survive and thrive and kick these Internet broadcaster's skinny little upstart butts, it will be because we recognized the awesome power of their delivery system and bought our way into it. Yes, the Internet upstarts will soon be able to match and exceed our ability to deliver a signal. To win, we're going to have to leverage our talent and our experience.
My greatest fear in all of this is that consolidation is happening at exactly the wrong time. In each of the past few years, several prominent executives have dropped off our 40 Most Powerful People list, usually because their companies were sold. I predict that, within three years, many of these same people will be back on the list as Internet broadcasting executives.
Yes, we do plan to include Internet broadcasters in the annual list of The 40 Most Powerful People in Radio. You see, we aren't measuring the executives’ Radio delivery system; we're measuring their impact on the world. And there will definitely be some Internet execs who will have an awesome impact.
Consolidation is sending out some of Radio's greatest players to be "free agents." Is it possible that Radio is losing $10,000 in future revenue for every dollar it saves in short-term payroll?
The bottom line is that Radio's greatest asset is not its FCC licenses or its outdated transmitters. The greatest asset of Radio is the talent and experience of its people. If we lose sight of that, we’re doomed.
Is anybody listening?

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