Ron Robinson is a Canadian radio curmudgeon that writes a weekly column in Radio Ink. A recent column asked the question, “Will More Data and Tech Help Radio?” I thought I’d take a go at answering this question in this week’s blog.
Spoiler Alert: The Answer is NO
Radio seems to be awash in data and tech, more is not what’s needed. Radio knows what to do but isn’t doing it.
Education that is not put into action, is simply entertainment.
Likewise, having too much information can be as useful as not having any information. Moderation is the key to everything.
People Listen to Radio
I have no doubts that people are listening to radio. Unfortunately, the proliferation of radio stations has fractionalized any one radio station’s listening audience. Gone are the days of big double digit shares of listening to any radio show or radio station.
Nobody cares if your radio station is #1. (They never did.)
Are Your Listeners Responding?
For the advertiser, it’s always been about cash register rings. That’s the ONLY audience measurement they ever cared about.
To accomplish driving this metric, means an investment in the copywriting process. It means advertising representatives who know how to find each advertiser’s unique characteristic that will become their story. It means having relatable communicators who can tell the story in a way that engages the listener and inspires them to action.
I personally have been studying why people do the things they do for over three decades. And have been a disciple of Roy H. Williams aka The Wizard of Ads for almost as long.
Any radio person serious about getting their advertiser results should be investing in their people’s education at the Wizard Academy.
I’ve been writing this blog for almost five years now and post it to different social media platforms. Looking at the metrics about where readers come, from #1 would be from Facebook. Facebook not only comes in first, but what comes in after it, is far behind in impact.
I’m thinking that your local advertisers may be experiencing something similar if they’ve used Facebook to promote their business.
I began streaming music when living in the greater New York City area and WQCD – CD101.9 FM dropped its smooth jazz format. In my radio career, I launched two different new smooth jazz formatted radio stations and fell in love with the music and the artists.
To take a break from monitoring my own radio stations, I’d turn on CD101.9.
When they left the air, I was forced to go online and find a streaming smooth jazz station. So, in essence, the radio industry by removing this relaxing format at station after station, forced folks like me to go elsewhere for their music fix.
You Can’t Go Back
In my many travels, I’ve had the opportunity to hear a couple of OTA smooth jazz radio stations that brought this format back. I found them hard to listen to. Here’s why, they are cluttered, and the streaming smooth jazz channels I enjoy are not.
Much in the way that Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTube have made television clutter free viewing, streaming audio via my Amazon Echoes has done the same thing for my music listening.
Anyone who’s had a car with an automatic transmission, won’t want to return to the days of shifting, or has had a car equipped with air conditioning won’t buy a car without it.
It’s Innovation Time
Radio needs to do what others are not.
The successful radio stations of the future will be ones where their people are 100% focused on its content, and nothing else. They will be niched to satisfy a defined audience so perfectly, that those listeners will find little need to go anywhere else.
They will be people communicating with other people, live in real time and with relevant content.
Fred Rogers put it this way, “L’essential est invisible pour les yeux.” (What is essential is invisible to the eye.)
More data and tech won’t take radio to the next chapter.
6 responses to “Radio Knows What to Do”
Radio is failing because it tried to mold the internet to fit its needs, when it should have been changing itself to fit the internet’s requirements.
One, never discussed problem: The industry couldn’t figure out online’s simple domain name imaging. Examples? Who is it that owns “RockRadio.com”? How about “TalkRadio.com”? Or, “ListenToRadio.com”? It’s not anyone in the radio industry. Nor do any radio groups own “RadioStations.com,” “SellingOnRadio.com,” or “AdvertisingOnRadio.com.”
Take this one step farther. Names like “HoustonRadio.com, DetroitRadio.com, DenverRadio.com, LosAngelesRadio.com, MiamiRadio.com, PittsburghRadio.com, or even the mother of all radio industry names, NewYorkRadio.com” are missing from any radio group’s portfolio.
Even the term “SeattleRadio.com,” owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc., sits idle with no redirect leading to any of its radio properties. Pardon me, but that’s just stupidity in action.
To no surprise, RadioAdvertising.com & RadioAdvertiser.com are not owned by a broadcaster either. I own the latter and will let it go for a reasonable price. But, after 19 years, not once has anyone in the radio industry inquired about its availability.
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Ken, that’s an interesting perspective on the radio industry and its slow embrace of the internet. Thank You for sharing.
There may be others, but the only radio group that has an active web and social media presence to drive sales is Zimmer in Missouri. That’s not a good thing.
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Zimmer has been a forwarding thinking and acting radio broadcaster for many years.
But I agree with you Brad, they can’t be the only one for the good of the radio industry in America.
I don’t know what y’all are talking about. Radio is succeeding quite well at its one and only goal: juicing stock prices of the parent companies.
Don’t ever forget, that is the ONLY goal.
Never mind secondary considerations, anything about selling ads or building an audience aren’t even on the radar screen. All that matters is building up that stock price by the next quarterly deadline.
Sadly Aaron, you are correct. In today’s world, it’s all about one thing with no thought given to the future or the unintended consequences. It’s an “all about me” world we are living in.