I can’t help but be struck by the headlines I read each morning when I log onto my computer or pickup my smartphone to read the latest news.
Here’s just a few recent ones:
- More audio is now consumed in the U.S. through mobile devices than through traditional radio receivers. -Edison Research
- 83% of U.S. Homes have enabled smart TVs or streaming media players. -Hub Research
- 49% of registered voters don’t have traditional TV, 80% stream. -Samba TV & HarrisX
- The steady climb of podcasting’s reach in the U.S. -Edison Research
- Why mobile first is radio’s road back. -Jacob’s Media
- Survey finds older adults are slowly warming to streaming audio. -Broadbeam Media
This last headline flies in the face of traditional wisdom that people over the age of 55, who grew up with AM/FM radio, won’t abandon the medium. However, the COVID pandemic has caused rapid shifts in media habits, even among older Americans.
Not surprising, it has been the shift to streaming video that’s taught people how easy it is to stream audio content as well.
Traditional Radio vs. Digital Audio
For twenty years, we’ve seen this day coming. With each passing survey, research study or anecdotal observation it’s clear that listening to audio content is moving from the world I grew up in, AM/FM radio, to digitally streamed audio.
The trend line is clear, everything is moving in one direction and there’s no signs of it reversing. Today 53% of audio time spent listening is to digitally streamed audio.
I started off this year of blogging with an article about how ALL of my radio listening is digitally steamed, whether I’m at home or in one of our cars. You can read that article HERE
Hallmark Christmas Movies
My wife Sue and I love watching Hallmark Christmas Movies. One of the things I’ve noticed about today’s movies, is how ubiquitous the smartphone has become in storylines. Everyone is constantly texting or video chatting with others in these movies.
But what really struck a nerve with me, was a scene in a recent Christmas film where a character in the movie tries to explain to another character what radio is:
Actor 1: It’s like TV without pictures.
Actor 2: You mean it’s a podcast?
It’s clear that we are living in the future that was predicted decades ago.
Life Is Change
It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. Both public radio and Christian radio have found audiences that will listen and support them whether they are received by traditional radio broadcasting or via a digital stream on a smartphone or smart speaker.
Many of our country’s smallest radio markets are also some of the most successful radio operations. Why? Because they know their listeners, and engage with them on a very personal level.
It’s only when the tide goes out that you learn who has been swimming naked.
In other words, everyone looks like they know what they’re doing when business is good, it’s only when things become challenging, that we know who is prepared to not just survive, but thrive.
How many years must a mountain exist
Before it is washed to the sea?
Radio broadcasting, like the mountain in Bob Dylan’s song “Blowin’ In The Wind,” is dealing with its own type of climate change, a change in people’s habits for how they receive and consume their media.
Let’s hope the answer to radio’s future isn’t “Blowin’ In The Wind.”