Readers: Future of radio is small radio
Readers have great confidence in medium, but they predict change
April 15, 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.
Media buyers and planners are big fans of radio as a medium.
But as has been well-documented at this point, they are not big fans of big radio.
They believe radio’s future lies with companies that own fewer stations but know how to manage them to better serve listeners and advertisers.
Call it small radio.
Small radio, buyers and planners believe, understands the nuances of the medium that makes radio great. It’s foremost a local medium, and done right a hugely effective local medium.
This is the vision voiced by media people in a recent Media Life survey asking them to weigh in on the future of radio.
Readers point to a number of radio companies that are doing it right. They also praise some of the reps working for big companies trying to make the best of what they’re dealt.
But the overriding theme of their answers is this: Change is coming, and smaller, nimbler companies will be better prepared to deal with it. They are and will be the new face of radio in America.
Here’s a sampling of readers’ responses about the future of radio. Whatever that future may hold, media buyers and planners believe it’s quite promising, even if there have been some bumps in recent years.
“Break up of these large groups. New, nimble buyers will breathe new life into radio. This is still a viable medium, and the right players could position themselves for a strong future.”
“As big companies regionalize as much as possible, a lower layer of local announcers, promoters, and field soldiers must keep feet on the ground.”
“Active adaptation to secure a successful future. Adaption and change must be invested in and considered in the areas of technology, on-air content (including personalities), and the business model of radio. I like to think of Netflix. They had an amazing mail-order DVD business going, saw the future of streaming, and made the transition long before the majority of consumers were there. Ballsy, but necessary. If that were the CEOs of radio, they’d be Blockbuster video, who stayed with DVD rentals and late fees and went bankrupt!”
“Humility is necessary, and management who see themselves as part of a team, not doing what they need to do to cover themselves.”
“More consolidation to the smaller radio station groups.”
“Automated buying of national advertising in radio.”
“Learning how to become platform agnostic and creating a positive listening experience across all platforms. Becoming less dependent on just radio spots for income and learning to use the medium to direct consumers to its platforms on the internet to get the products and services they need from local businesses.”
“There will also be a lot of selling, buying and bankruptcy in order to reinvent the wheel in a way that fits in with today’s world and connects with locals again.”
“Hopefully, lots of radio geeks and old timers will form little buying groups and purchase some bankrupt stations.”
“In general, I see it being broken up and sold to smaller entities and hopefully bringing radio back to the community.”
“The big companies will dump their smaller markets which will then return to localization, giving innovative talent a voice.”
“I think it will take a long time, but eventually big radio will evolve back into small radio, with a much more local emphasis, even while the ownership remains big radio.”
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