Last month, fmqb published their year-end issue asking various media leaders their thoughts on the state of the radio industry. Here is what John Parikhal wrote:
The necessary steps the radio industry should take to ensure the future growth and viability of the business begins with low-hanging fruit: cheap and easy ways for radio to make more money.
1. Dump bad initiatives and start good ones: HD is DOA. Spend your time and energy tapping everyone except the most senior executives, who seem to spend too much time with each other and not enough in the trenches. Stop surrounding yourselves with `suck-ups' who agree with bad ideas because they are afraid for their jobs.
2. Push hard for a 30-59 demo buy: For decades, radio has been driven by advertiser's demands for 25-54. It's so out of date. Get modern. Already, 16 million Baby Boomers are 55-59. They spend billions and radio ignores them. In the next four years, another 16 million will be 55-59. Meanwhile, 25-29 year-olds are less interested in radio than ever. Get real. And, if I hear `we can't tell advertisers what to do'- stop acting like a victim.
3. Encode song ID: A simple, inexpensive fix. Make sure that when you play a song, the title shows up on car radios. iPod does it. Satellite does it. But some stations won't spend the money, even though 50% of radio listeners want to know the titles each time they are played.
4. Tap into your 2.0 employees: Get serious about innovation. It's usually `bottom up'. Radio has proven you can't do it top down. The best ideas come from those closest to the customer. Put a process in place to listen to your employees who actually interact with your listeners and advertisers.
5. Advertise: Stop acting like poverty stricken corner stores who cut their ad budgets when sales are down. Act like serious players. Let people know what you're doing, what's new and why you matter. You have to spend the money! Build it into the budget and don't cut it if times get a bit tough. Yes, it's a financial crisis now. If you plan to be here in three years, you have to act like it now or you won't be here in three years.
6. Learn about your customers: Do you know that fewer than 4% of your listeners ever text a radio station? Do you know that almost 25% of those who go to a station Web site are also listening to at least one other Internet-only station too? You learn this by researching your customers. I do a lot of market research for clients ranging from radio to Internet companies. The reason for the market research is because I learned 40 years ago that if you take your eye off the customer, they take their eye (and ear) off you.
7. Get serious about your Web site: Update at least every day. Optimize search. Make it easy to find the `listen' button. Include a phone number in your `contact us' information. Post lots of photos. Do usability testing.
8. Adapt to the new world: Drop the clichéd slogans and connect with the real world. Accept that 30+ listeners are the future for at least another 5-10 years and figure out how to make them really happy with you.
Leaders today have to find broadcasters who want to encourage younger people to come into the industry. Decide if you plan to be in business in three years. If you do, then stop getting rid of your intellectual capital like human beings who actually come up with the ideas and do the work. Without fresh blood, the industry will become almost completely networked and syndicated. At that point, it's nothing more than a transmitter business. Like the oil pipeline business instead of the business of finding oil.
posted by Chris Kennedy @ Sunday, January 04, 2009,