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October 23, 2014

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5/29/00 Are Reports Of Radio's Death Exaggerated?
My heart sank the moment one of our Radio Ink Internet Conference speakers pulled out the first-ever MP3 cell phone to be seen in public. I had been predicting, and hearing, that Internet-Radio listening devices would appear on cell phones and Palm Pilots, but this was the first one Iíd seen. As Phillip Monego, CEO of Voquette and original CEO of Yahoo!, plugged into the audio of ABC News, then the BBC, then high-quality stereo Internet music on a cell phone smaller than most, I knew the digital wireless future was right around the corner. I was both exhilarated and disheartened, because being without wires was the one advantage that terrestrial Radio held over Internet Radio. The wireless Radio future is already happening in Europe, and it will be only two to five years before it penetrates America.
A number of defining moments occurred at this sold-out conference held a couple of weeks ago in Boston. Lycos unveiled Lycos TV, and we saw the first demo of Lightningcastís ad-insertion technology, the first demo of the Kima, Akooís wireless Internet Radio receiver, and the first demo of Xenoteís iTag, the portable device that consumers can click to recall what song or commercial was playing on a particular station. Everyone took home the iTag and the Sonicbox (unveiled at our first conference in Silicon Valley last October) as well as lots of other goodies. But this new technology wasnít the only thing that blew us all away; it was what the speakers had to say about Radioís future, or lack thereof.
Walter Mossberg, technology columnist for The Wall Street Journal, making him the most connected and most influential technology journalist in America, told us that Radio needs to realize that the way it does business today is a flawed model for the future. "Transmitters are inefficient and will no longer be your main means of distribution," he says. "All Radio listening will take place via the Internet."
Seth Godin, author and Internet marketing guru, asked, "Is Radio dead?" Godin says Radio is dead unless it starts using the Internet to leverage the bond it already has with its audience. He wonders why anyone would listen to terrestrial Radio when they could choose from thousands of commercial-free stations on the Net, and, could self-program their own Radio stations with the exact music they want to hear.
Michael Hawley, Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor of media technology, said, "Radio as we know it is over if it does not get its act together" because the Internet puts power in the hands of consumers whereas Radio is a one-way push model that no longer will appeal to consumers once they discover what they can do with Internet Radio.
As you know, people have predicted Radioís death many times before. We were told Radio was going to die when TV came along (it almost did until Rock íní Roll saved it), when eight-tracks and cassettes were introduced, when CB Radio came along, and when the CD came along. But the Internet has already changed many industries, forever. Will Radio die? Hopefully never, but our method of distribution will change. Radio isnít about a means of distribution (transmitters); itís about delivering a compelling and entertaining experience to consumers. Radioís future will require giving consumers the power to control their programming.
A whole new range of major players will emerge holding the brass ring because many of the big Radio groups will continue to play long stopsets and will fail to entertain. Internet Radio will steal listeners looking for something better, just like FM stole listeners from AM, which became too overly cluttered and disadvantaged by audio quality. It took FM 10 years to overtake AM because there were no receivers in the market. Today there are 100 million people who have a Real or a Windows Media player on their PC. Discovering Internet Radio is just a matter of time. Itís also just a matter of time before some major Radio player makes the jump to Internet Radio and shocks the industry.
If youíre in denial about Radioís future, Iíve been there. There were 690 people who entered this Radio Ink conference in denial, but left with a clear picture of the future and their denial behind. My mission is to stimulate thought and help you prepare your Internet strategy for your Radio stations. I hope youíll join us Nov. 28 to Dec. 1 in Santa Clara, CA, for the next Radio Ink Internet Conference. We can guarantee one thing. Your head will be spinning with possibilities.

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