When the novel coronavirus turned our world upside down, life as we had known it was dramatically changed. About the closest thing I can compare it to was when I made the decision to retire, move from Kentucky to Virginia and get married; again.
Time to Retire
All my life I had witnessed stories in movies and on TV about people retiring. I remember my own dad being forced to retire at the age of 65, because back in the 70s General Electric Company had a mandatory retirement policy. It seemed like something people planned and looked forward to, and now, after a decades long career in broadcasting and then as a professor at a university, I had arrived. My wife and I planned out two years’ worth of road trips to see America from the ground. As a flight attendant for Delta, she had flown over most of the United States, but like me, longed to see it up close and personal; as can only be done from driving the highways and byways of this great land.
Life in Retirement
I will admit that retirement brings with it, major lifestyle changes, and I truly have learned to enjoy all of it. As an example, in the summer, pool aerobics takes place in an outdoor pool bathed in the warmth of the morning sun. What’s not to like about that?
You might think that a retired person’s life couldn’t have changed much when COVID-19 appeared, and the world closed down. Wrong! Those pool exercise programs were terminated, our planned cruise to Alaska via Canada was cancelled as the border between our countries closed, trips to visit our children and grand children were transformed into ZOOM visits and like everyone else we wore masks, used lots of hand sanitizer and took advantage of senior shopping hours (usually from 6-7am) which meant having to get up with an alarm clock once again.
The global pandemic brought lifestyle changes to the world that were as dramatic as retirement. It’s why after sitting in on the latest Fred Jacobs webinar, TechSurvey 2021, it was this single slide that made the most impact on me.
When radio station listeners were asked why they spent less time listening to radio, the number one and two responses were basically the same: Lifestyle Change.
People were spending less time in their cars as many were now working from home, going to school from their bedroom and meals were now being prepared in the house kitchens versus dining out.
Most people listened to traditional radio in their automobile, because it may be the only radio they own and when “Work From Home” (WFH) became the norm, car usage plummeted.
So, what did we do at home while we were sequestered? We streamed everything: movies, TV shows, music, newspapers, magazines, and visiting friends and relatives, were all made possible via internet.
The last time the world saw so many important structural changes as we’re experiencing today, was in the 1920s; a time when commercial radio was born, and a time when people were yearning for change after experiencing a two year global pandemic from the “Spanish Flu.”
Reassessing the Meaning of Life
The disruption brought with COVID-19 has caused many people to really think about what’s important in their life. This great reassessment is going on at all levels of the American economy causing many people to decide if they want to do something different with their lives. People have realigned their priorities when it comes to what’s important to them, and what makes for a happy, fulfilling life.
Sixty-six percent of unemployed people in a recent Pew Survey said they had “seriously considered” changing their field of work, which might help to explain why certain businesses are having a hard time re-hiring workers as COVID vaccinations are re-opening our economy.
Reassessing Media Usage
The sequestering at home saw, according to TechSurvey 2021, that streaming video services like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ saw a 35% increase in use, followed by a 15% increase in usage of streaming music services like Spotify and Pandora, as well as spending time on social media. Video gaming was up 13% and the radio station that sent these radio listeners this year’s TechSurvey showed a 10% increase.
It’s important to note that the people who love listening to radio, put listening to their favorite radio personality ahead of hearing their favorite music as the reason they listen.
The Lego Lesson
Now you might be thinking that as a radio owner/manager “I need to be doing more.” That seems to be human nature when anyone is contemplating how to beat their previous performance; whether that means increasing audience ratings or bottom line revenues.
Let me tell you about a study where participants were asked to modify a structure built with Legos. Most participants added more bricks – our gut instinct that to do better, it will take more of something – but the better strategy it turns out was to remove a few Lego bricks from the structure.
When it comes to improving your radio operation, might you find a better result by subtracting rather than adding? When you keep things simple focusing on those things that made you successful, magic happens.
It was true when radio was born, and it’s even more important today, but don’t take my word for it, listen to what radio listeners say is the main reason they’re still listening in the latest TechSurvey.