Five other threats to traditional radio
They also stand to grab away listeners and in some cases ad dollars
September 1, 2016
By the editors of Media Life
This is one in a number of stories on radio in Media Life’s ongoing series “The new face of radio in America,” examining all the changes taking place in the medium. Click here for earlier stories.
We see so much handwringing in the radio trade press about Pandora and other digital services, one might think those were the only worries facing industry executives.
But actually there are other threats out there.
Here are five that come to mind right off. We mention them in no particular order.
One: Traffic and weather apps
It’s a matter of habit. We turn on the radio while driving to get the latest weather and traffic reports. But more and more we’re checking in with traffic and weather apps for that information. These days they are the first place many drivers turn to, negating the need for radio.
Two: The computerized dash
Not so many years ago, car dashboards contained just the essentials, a speedometer, a gas gauge and a radio. More and more dashboards are becoming entertainment centers. They’ll become even more so when the driverless car arrives. Years ago, TV kicked radio out of the living room. TV and kindred entertainment devices could well kick traditional radio out of the car.
Three: The Wi-Fi-equipped car
With Wi-Fi, drivers and passengers can go directly to Pandora or another streaming service without ever thinking about the radio in the dashboard, and then they can listen to their favorite music easily, without the hassle of hooking up through Bluetooth. It’s only a matter of time before more and more do.
Podcasts these days are all the rage, and what better place to listen to a podcast than while commuting to work? Bet that the podcast craze is only going to grow, taking away more and more ears from car radios. Think of the podcast as the more discerning person’s alternative to talk radio.
Radio’s big advantage over all other traditional media was its localness. You listened to radio and felt connected to your community. Take away that localness—replace it with music and chat piped in from parts unknown, as has happened with the consolidation of radio—and traditional radio becomes at best a weak alternative to the likes of Pandora.
There is no there there, in the words of Gertrude Stein. Or better, there may not be enough there.
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