Radio Not Really Defeated…Just Outdated
The mood was also grim at the most recent NAB show in Austin. Most of the lobby discussions were about workouts, trustees, receiverships and bankruptcy. Some were actually throwing their hands up in the air decrying the death to all things broadcast terrestrially. Radio in particular.
Here are a few things to consider about the future of radio that reflects upon the past and more importantly…what needs to be done in the future.
First and foremost… radio hasn’t been in business for the past 10 years, radio has been in business for one year, 10 years in a row. If you compare how radio revenue was generated in 1998 compared to 2008, you see that almost nothing has changed. That means if you bring in management that has ANY sense of how to drive revenues in the good year of 2008, you can be saved. The days of just selling spots and expecting to make budget are over. Radio is a powerful media platform for sponsored events and promotions that can deliver dollars in the door. Successful operations understand this concept and profit from it. The year is 2008, not a repetition of 1998 over and over and over again.
Secondly…. the programming on radio in 2008 is mush. Re-hashed mush. Ninety percent of the radio stations you listen to today sound EXACTLY the same as the radio stations you heard 10 years ago. In fact some radio stations are absolutely identical to how they sounded in 1998. Maybe even older. Sure the music is different….. but the overall presentation and marketing concepts are exactly the same.
Media consumption and usage is completely different from how it was in 1998. Yet radio continues to believe things haven’t changed. There are virtually hundreds of new formatic options and programming niches that have yet to be exploited on radio. Music is like a drug in many people’s lives. They simply can’t live without it. Radio needs to become relevant to these addicts. Programming needs to explore those things yet to be found.
Lenders….now go look at the website of your radio investment. Compare it to virtually any other competitive media form such as TV, newspapers, magazines or sports team. Most radio websites are stagnant, cookie cutter templates that lack interactivity, and the laser focused content that turns music fans into radio station fanatics. Once again, a missed opportunity for revenue and ratings growth.
Radio doesn’t understand that it could function as a website that happens to have broadcast capabilities. Could you imagine starting up a website that could reach tens of thousands of listeners every day? Radio has that capability but thinks that a website is a necessary evil, not a means of transforming their business model into a multi-platformed media powerhouse. Maybe we should start buying cheap radio stations and turning them into a broadcast internet sites?
I personally don’t think there has been any other time in recent history for opportunistic growth in radio. You just have to put on a different set of glasses to see the new media world. So lenders, before you give up and sell your assets for cents on the dollar, consider the possibility of improving your management team, improving your product, and building a business model that has been designed in 2008….. not in1998.