The End of Mass Media

84Jack Nicholson famously said in the movie A Few Good Men “You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!”

I think he was right.

We can’t.

We say we can. We want to believe we can. But the reality is the truth is scary.

The Future of Mass Media

The reality is the future of our business – mass media – is that it won’t be all that “mass” anymore.

The future will be a media that is built around relevance and quality of message, not volume.

And that’s scary.

Not to just us broadcasters but to the ratings service known as Nielsen. We aren’t going to need to know the volume (aka cume) or AQH (average quarter hour) numbers in the future. The real value that we will deliver will be based on how relevant we are to our listeners and what value we deliver.

The King is Dead

Remember when the catch phrase of the day was “Content is King”?  Bill Gates famously said that.

There were others that felt that distribution was king.

Turns out the “king” is dead for both of these theories and the new king is relationships. And relationships are based on mutual interests and relevancy.


What’s the power of Facebook?  Relationships.

Oh sure it uses complex algorithms to manage our relationships, but we are not smitten with algorithms we are drawn to relationships and we friend or unfriend based on the relevance of those relationships too.

Google gets it too.

Each of us is an individual and these social media companies go to great lengths to treat us in just that way.

One Size Does Not Fit All

Commercial radio broadcasting still strives to deliver the “one size fits all” solution. Those days are over.

Radio needs to build, as Seth Godin might say, tribes. People who believe what we believe.

Simon Sinek says that people aren’t attracted to what you do but why you do it.

What’s your WHY?

If there are enough people in your coverage area that will make you a meaningful size tribe of listeners, then do it. If not, find something else that is meaningful.

But trying to be all things to all people – the concept of “mass media” – those days are over.


The 800 pound elephant in the room is how to pay for it. Ad supported media is being challenged by the internet in ways that Netflix, Amazon, Google and others that grew up on a different metric are not.

Today supply far outweighs demand in the advertising world.

Even those special live television events that were growing in audience every year are now seeing they’ve peaked. Nothing goes up forever.

The future is creating something relevant to the people you develop a relationship with. The value will be in how strong those relationships are not necessarily how big, in terms of numbers of people, they are.

The future for all media I suspect will start to look more like that of public radio or Christian radio. Each of these mediums has established strong relationships with their listener. They also don’t abuse those relationships with underwriting announcements that either doesn’t fit their audience or by unbalancing the content to underwriting ratio.

Commercial broadcasters seem to take the view that adding one more spot to the hour; the cluster etc won’t affect their audience. They would be wrong. It does.

Keeping things in balance and running seamlessly will be critical to broadcasters whether they’re being consumed over-the-air on AM or FM, or over the internet.

Sales people in this new world will be business evangelists that seek out business owners with innovative ideas and solutions to their problems. Businesses owners who benefit from these relationships with media sales folks will in turn reward the media enterprise with their support.

What’s your WHY?

But it all starts by first defining, as Simon Sinek says, your WHY.

“People don’t buy what you do; they buy WHY you do it.”

Answer that question, and you will have taken the first step.



Filed under Education, Mentor, Radio, Sales

16 responses to “The End of Mass Media

  1. WHY: Because we can…and must! People buy from people we
    LIKE. Connecting & Building Relationships with Positive Delivery. THE GREAT NEWS: More channels than ever to get there. Just Show Up & Resonate with the Goods, Betters and Bests!
    Thanks, again Prof. DT. Makes a cold morning even brighter! Tuned in from Boston, & digital solutions.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been talking about this for years, DT… but I reckon a lot more people will listen to you! As for relevance and quality? Well, as we both know… there’s quality… and then there’s “quality.” Even the doom-n-gloom crowd is able to tune into streams that feature top-notch exclusively curated pessimism porn.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Country radio also engenders the same type of loyalty from its listeners, though its future may be endangered down the road by an audience that is becoming more fractionalized by the divide between “old” and “new” country. And, of course, the radical “sameness” of some stations.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes Kevin, you’re right. I already see that divide and that’s why I didn’t include them. I believe they’ve already crossed the relevance line. -DT


      • I think the real key to that, Dick is this: stations that have been in the format for some time can stay relevant by being as local as humanly possible and by making sure that the “whole” of country is represented in one form or another on the station. Not to toot our own horn, but our country FM here which has been in the market for 28 years this Friday still engenders listener loyalty, but we work at it with a local morning show and air personalities who, if not totally local, sound like it and work at it, too. We also are not afraid to say the names of George Jones and Charlie Pride, even if their songs only get scant play in features from time to time. So we’re able to relate to all ages. But, I think our type of station may be the only “mainstream” type of station to survive that divide.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Bill Cain

    I’m so pleased you recognized the relationship thread between listener and business to the station’s health. I’ve known this from day one. But I take a parallel lane with the “King”. Content is just as important. Unmanned jukeboxes are the death knell of broadcasting. Any loyal Broadcast listener who feels abandoned is a potential Pandora listener! We must tend the garden, as it were. So many stations now sound like kitchen junk drawers look.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dick – thank-you for bringing focus to the two most pivotal considerations facing broadcast media – defining your “Why” and building your relevance – each for advertisers, listeners, employees and shareholders.

    Advertisers want greater relevance in the form of sales results they can measure and attribute to our advertising on a weekly basis. The challenge is that the vast majority in our industry refuse to give it to them, despite the tools being available to deliver 52 weeks of millions of dollars in documented results to advertisers, (hands up, please, those of us who do – it would be so nice to connect with these rare, like-minded folk so we can all share what we are doing).

    Listeners want relevance in the form of ongoing, meaningful experiences that we can create for them on a more impactful, long-term basis. This can be done both individually and en masse; as there are so many more monetizable opportunities that we can create to make that happen.

    Employees want relevance that takes them beyond fragile job security in this industry that is still not secure with its place in the competitive fray, because we’re far from fully monetizing our abilities. All this, despite our unrealized position to take leadership in revenue and relevance in each of our markets on a daily basis.

    Shareholders find greater relevance in returns generated from radical revenue growth. By providing relevance regarding the above three vantage points, we’ll much more easily draw more capital to radio ownership to build on our strengths and establish dominance on new beach-heads such as the digital dashboard.

    The bottom line? There is room for a movement to help more companies better establish radio’s relevance on a daily basis, and establish and communicate a compelling “Why?” that’s tailored to the opportunities, needs and wants, in each of the communities we serve.

    It’s interesting – ask other station owners and managers, and they say “We already do that”; yet ask advertisers and listeners, and their industry-wide spending and listening levels tell a different story.

    Google, Facebook and other influences are not the greatest danger to our industry – it’s the people whose fruit shows that they’re clinging to the status quo. Some of them are nice people – they just need to bring on board more of those proven, passionate and able to respond to the stated, yet unmet needs of advertisers and listeners, to help them move forward.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank You Andy for stopping by and adding your experience to the conversation. I agree it is within the radio industry’s power to make positive changes and you provided a nice roadmap for beginning that change.

      Thank you for sharing it on too. -DT


  6. Maybe mass media isn’t gone, but the mass IS shrinking. It’s always been shrinking. Every time a new medium has been introduced to the “mass”, they’ve been distracted from the “old” medium. It’s incumbent on “radio” to continue to research and appeal to and entertain the masses-and then market it to the masses. We still have the benefit of doing things that no other medium can do. KVIL had “The Incredible Prize Catalog”. Cecil Heftel’s 13Q had “Don’t Say Hello”. Time after time after time these tactics were incorporated into other stations -and when done correctly they’d see massive results. It’s BALANCE for sure. Even today-in the car when something comes on station “A” you don’t like, you punch up station “B”. That’s been enhanced by people who go from medium “A” (i.e. radio) to medium “B” (pureplay) and then medium “C” (podcast). Radio needs to overcome those limitations to retain relevance. Give me more reasons to listen!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dave and let’s not forget starting with Docket 80-90, LPFM and translators, today there are about 15,000 FM signals compared to around 4,600 AM signals on the air in America.

      At the time in radio history when the number of AM signals equaled the number of FM signals, 75% of radio listening was to FM.

      The law of Less is More is also a factor. -DT


      • Well in the days of shopping malls people would go to those with 100 stores vs. those with 25 boutiques. That’s the AM vs. FM quandary that’s existed for years. Many FM LP stations are tough to listen to, the translators sputter in quick order for many motorists and HD hash has mucked up the FM band as well. We certainly need order and balance, and yes–if we’re going to have “less”-then it certainly needs to provide “more” for the listener. Keep us posted, Dick.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Fred Jacobs blogs this morning about Radio Woodstock, a hybrid revenue model. It ties into my blog and I thought you might enjoy reading it.

    Here’s a link:


  8. Hello,I read your blog named “The End of Mass Media | DickTaylorBlog” daily.Your humoristic style is witty, keep up the good work! And you can look our website about تحميل اغانى.

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