Used to be, commercial radio was THE sexy medium, even as it has had to evolve multiple times with every new technological competitive threat. Even when MTV came along, radio stayed sexy and cool because it delivered a unique platiform of programming, humor, access to stars, news, information, entertainment and/or music.
Radio got really sexy even while the Internet was building -- radio was fast and everywhere, the Internet was slow and needed to be wired. While radio groups bought and bought and bought, forming these new massive (and unwieldy) media companies, radio said it finally returned to a level of respectibility and strength it last had pre-TV.
But then three things finally happened, causing the perfect storm for radio: broadband speed, wireless connection...and the iPod. And, after 80 years of evolving and adapting, radio finally got caught, losing its sexy edge and causing radio and media executives to scratch their collective heads, thinking "wah happened?"
Change happened...and another radio evolution is required now in this iPod world.
The NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) spring convention bringing together several thousand new and old media broadcasters from around the world converged for their annual Las Vegas gathering. Among the highlights was the Tuesday Radio keynote speech, delivered by the Wall Street Journal's technology columnist Walt Mossberg.
When someone from the Wall Street Journal actually takes the time to comment about radio, radio fans take notice. He's a smart guy and he keeps tabs on the major and merging media trends and looming threats. So those in the audience at the NAB listened carefully (can you hear the pin drop?)...
In his speech as reported by RAIN, Mossberg urged broadcasters to use all the new technological tools at their disposal, and warned that radio will have to evolve again as radically as it did when it responded to the arrival of television. He does think radio and the this new digitial/iPod world can coexist, just as it has when other new tech gets introduced. “Disruptive technology does enable new forms of media – but history shows us that new media doesn’t kill the old,” Mossberg observed.
However, in Mossberg's words, "Radio needs to use new tools to beat the iPod"...radio's greatest threat.
“We passed a milestone: There are now 50 million iPods out there,” Mossberg said. “What you have to do to confront the iPod and the Internet is to be better at what you do...(Radio is) in the business of producing audio programming, and (it) should be using all the technology at its disposal.”
When TV first became popular in the Milton Berle Age, "radio was totally different then – and it may have to be totally different again.”
Mossberg's final directive said that radio's "job is not just to string together a bunch of songs in a row, but to put on exciting new programming to attract new listeners and beat the iPod.”
Is that possible? Can radio actually beat the iPod? And should it even try? In response to the RAIN article, Joint Communications' CEO John Parikhal wrote in to say:
"Mossberg is a bright guy and he did a great speech. One tin note: Radio can't "beat" the iPod. They have to co-exist.We welcome your comments...
Radio's two core questions are simple McLuhan: "What medium is replacing me; and when I 'reinvent,' what medium will I replace?" That focus allows the industry to target its creativity where it is most likely to bear fruit."
posted by Chris Kennedy @ Sunday, April 30, 2006,