The End of the iPhone

121I write about radio in most of these weekly articles. Recently, an article that compared the future of AM radio to the future of the coal industry created a lot of conversation.

People who don’t listen to AM radio wondered why this was even a topic for discussion and people who own AM radio stations felt they would never go away, even though they were actively acquiring (or had already acquired) an FM translator for their AM station.

Putting your programming content on an FM translator is NOT saving AM radio. Period

Saving Fax Machines

I remember the day I got a fax machine for my radio stations in Atlantic City. It was the day one of our biggest client’s ad agency called about the next month’s orders for their casino client and told me that if I wanted to be on the buys going forward, I needed a fax machine. Only those radio stations with fax machines would be bought.

Holy Batman! I got a fax machine that same afternoon.

Soon a dedicated phone line was installed just for the fax machine.

How important is faxing these days? I still see fax numbers on business cards and websites but really, does anybody send faxes anymore?

There’s no effort that I know of to save the fax machine.

AM Radio

I spent over four decades of my life in radio broadcasting because of AM radio. I remember my first radio, a Zenith transistor radio 103 that came with a single ear piece. I remember sneaking it into school to hear the Red Sox playing in the world series. I don’t remember what the teacher said in those classes.

The transistor liberated radio from being a piece of furniture that occupied the living where the whole family would gather around to hear broadcasts. The TV would be the electronic piece of furniture that would take that spot once radios moved to the kitchen, bedroom (clock radios) and just about everywhere else people went now that the transistor made them light weight, stylish and very portable.


Model 66 Skyscraper Radio, 1935; Designed by Harold L. Van Doren (American, 1895-1957) and John Gordon Rideout (American, 1898-1951); Manufactured by Air-King Products Company, Inc. (Brooklyn, New York, USA); Compression-molded Plaskon, metal, glass, woven textile; 29.8 × 22.5 × 19.1 cm (11 3/4 × 8 7/8 × 7 1/2 in.); Promised gift of George R. Kravis II; Photo: Matt Flynn © Smithsonian Institution

In fact, I just visited the Cooper Hewitt Museum of design in New York City that showed the evolution of radio set design from the beginning to the present.

The present is characterized by the iPhone and Google Home (smart speaker technology) neither of which looks anything like a radio.

Bag Phones

My first mobile phone was a bag phone that sat on the front seat of my car with a wire that would run out the back window to a magnetic antenna that attached to the roof. That seemed like a big improvement from the previous form of remote communication with my radio stations; the pager.

Flip Phone

The bag phone would be replaced by a Motorola flip phone. It rode in a holster on my belt. I wouldn’t trade my flip phone for a bag phone for anything at that time. It was such an improvement in cellular communications.


Of course, the need for more information to be communicated remotely demanded that I get a Blackberry to stay in contact with not just my radio stations but corporate. I opted for a Blackberry Pearl as it was very small and so compact, it fit into a pocket in my dress pants, that I think was designed for loose change or maybe car keys.


I stayed away from the newest smartphone technology because it was so big compared to the size of my Blackberry Pearl. Until my son took his iPhone out of its Otterbox and put it next to my Pearl and I realized it wasn’t all that big. In fact, it was thinner than my Pearl.

I got my first iPhone soon after that. An iPhone4S. Siri would begin to write all of my emails and text messages from my verbal dictation. It made written communication a breeze.

I would stay with my 4S for what many of my students thought was an eternity, five years (2012-2017). The main reason was it worked perfectly and the other reason was I didn’t want to move to a larger phone.

Finally, the iPhone4S could no longer receive software updates because the technology was “so old” and my battery was beginning to show its age with all the nightly recharging. So, I bit the bullet and upgraded to the iPhone7 with 256GB (the same as my MacBook) and a pair of AirPods to go along with it.

While in some ways it is larger than my old 4S, it really is sleek and I quickly fell in love with it.

I would never wish to return to the days of only having a pager, bag phone, flip phone or Pearl. I would not even wish to return to my 4S, though it now is attached to my home FM system to stream music wirelessly to FM radios in every room of my home and taken on a second life.

Bye Bye iPhone

Microsoft’s Alex Kipman is the person who says that augmented reality could “flat-out replace the smartphone, the TV and anything else with a screen.”

Up to the present time, all gadgetry depended on us wearing something. But Elon Musk co-founded a new company called Neuralink and its working on technology that would blend the human brain to computers making humans one with the digital world.

No iPhone, tablet, computer, TV or radio would be needed to access the digital internet world.

Musk believes at the rate of digital development the only way humans will be able to keep up with change will be through being augmented themselves via a neural lace.

This is the stuff of science fiction with a Stephen King twist.

The questions it poses to future government regulation, education, ad supported media et al is mind boggling.

The smartphone connected to the internet has given everyone superpowers by instant access to all the world’s knowledge and wisdom. Eliminating this passive device so that our minds can be continuously linked to that information fountain is the natural evolution.

Can you see why smartphone makers aren’t worrying about having an FM chip in their devices?

The Book of Ecclesiastes (adaptation & music by Pete Seeger)

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven

A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven

A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace, a time to refrain from embracing

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late

-sung by The Byrds

Let’s hope it’s not too late.


Filed under Education, Mentor, Radio, Sales

15 responses to “The End of the iPhone

  1. packrat

    You’ve written quite a bit about the death of radio. What are your highest hopes–or plans– for the portion of the spectrum radio is currently occupying, should it become vacant. Do you have a business plan to share with us on that?


  2. I am officially old. As a station owner I would continue to go with the flow and update with the current trends. However augmented reality (if I understand it correctly) is where I draw the line. I don’t think I’ll be around to see it, and that is just fine with me.


    • Greenlight Insights writes: In 2017, we are seeing a shift in industry sentiment. On one hand, there is optimism due to the availability of new display platforms from Microsoft, Apple, and Google, as well as an increase in resources for consumer and enterprise application development. On the other hand, optimism is being tempered by uncertainty in the future actions of major industry players.
      Nevertheless, the building blocks for augmented reality are rapidly evolving. Historical challenges, such as tracking and registration, display technology and rendering, are rapidly being solved by major companies offering software-driven solutions. Yet, at the same time, advanced building blocks leave a lot to be desired. Implementations of presentation techniques, authoring tools, and interaction devices/techniques for AR applications are just now emerging.

      In contrast to VR where a large portion of industry development has shifted to the second layer, the AR ecosystem still has to tackle substantial problems on numerous base levels, which are outlined in this report. Fortunately, future advancements are expected to be derived from related areas such as virtual reality, sensor fusion, and computer processing.

      If you’d like to purchase their report:

      What is certain is that the speed of development continues to accelerate. What I wrote was more for the benefit of tomorrow’s generation of communicators Damon.

      Thank you for sharing your perspective. -DT


  3. Dick….those of us from our generation grew up in a vastly different world than our parents did. I too remember my first Zeneth transistor radio and the joy of my first IPhone. Then I think back to 44 years in radio and comparing those years in the business with the changes in the world between my first job in 1972 and my last job ended in 2016, the technological changes in radio were a small percentage of the changes in the rest of the world. Sure, computers, cell phones and the rest, did impact the business, but the basic technology was pretty much the same. I think that for us Baby Boomers, the changes you speak of will be left to our children and grandchildren to undertake. We’re now the “old guys” that used to tell us how great radio used to be, when we started in the business!


    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with you Frank.

      I often write for the next generation and not ours. The torch is being passed before our eyes.

      The changes in radio were small, in reality, during our years, but the changes going on in the world of mediated communications during that same time were huge.

      As I told my students, the future is now in your hands. -DT

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Walter Luffman

    The *immediate* future of radio looks dim; AMs are struggling or going dark, FMs are facing competition on their already-crowded band band from AMs with translators, and everyone is trying to compete with streaming sites that may or may not be affiliated with actual radio stations.

    But I have faith that radio will survive, although not necessarily in its present form. Satellite radio is making money while giving us “national” stations; who is to say the SiriusXM will retain its monopoly on that distribution method? As Wi-Fi continues to grow and evolve, we may see total, seamless coverage in cities someday soon; imagine mobile devices (including cars) that can stay connected to a station’s online presence as you travel about, automagically going from one hotspot to the next. Additional new technologies are in various stages of development, and new ones will be dreamed up.

    One thing I believe radio must do to differentiate itself from other streaming sources is provide programming that people want to share with their friends. Give people a reason to unplug the earphones and turn on the speakers so others around them can (and will want to) hear, too. We know how to do this, or at least we used to: contests, witty patter, “exclusive” music and other content, a reputation for being first with breaking news and severe-weather reports, anything that makes people want to hear and talk about what’s on the air.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Walter, I’m in agreement with all you wrote.

      The last paragraph reminds me of the oft heard phrase in many radio stations….”it worked so well, we stopped doing it.” Radio knows how to attract an audience and has proven it over almost a century. Unfortunately, many (most?) of the things that made radio successful are no longer being done and for that, radio is being beaten at its own game. -DT


  5. Exciting and scary at the same time. It’s amazing what we have witnessed in our lifetime. I wish I was a true visionary to imagine what my grandkids’ lives will be like 20-30-40-50 years from now.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Veritone®, Inc. (NASDAQ: VERI), a leading provider of artificial intelligence (AI) insights and cognitive solutions, today announced that it has signed an expanded, two-year agreement with iHeartMedia, the leading audio company with the largest reach of any radio or television outlet in America.


  7. AM/FM radios really are vanishing. While traditional AM/FM radios remain ubiquitous in almost every vehicle, several studies have noted that traditional radios are no longer stock items in the homes of many younger consumers. How bad is it? The vast majority (87%) of the 15- to 39-year-olds we interviewed own a car with an AM/FM radio. However, only 43% have a traditional radio at home or at work and a scant 16% own a portable radio. Together, only 48% still own a radio other than in their car.

    Read more here:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s