The results of Techsurvey 2022* was presented in a webinar this week and two things about the latest data and the trend lines of the last five years struck me.
“We have met the enemy and it is us.”
Walt Kelly coined that phrase in a poster he made for an anti-pollution poster for the first Earth Day in 1970. He would later repeat it in a comic strip he created for the second Earth Day in 1971.
Sadly, the similarities between what needs to be done to preserve our planet and the radio industry are striking. We all know what the answer is, but aren’t applying the solution.
Jacobs pointed out that “over the past four surveys, broadcast radio personalities have stayed ahead of the music as a key attribute of the medium.”
Yet, the big radio owners have done more to eliminate the very advantage broadcast radio has over its many audio competitors. Worse, our industry has no plan to create a farm team of new broadcasters that will replace personalities that are retiring or have retired.
Instead radio has tried to compete in areas where, at best, it’s a distant second; like music discovery.
Besides Personalities Radio’s Positives are Under Attack
Radio, we are told is easiest to listen to in the car. Unfortunately, when a person buys a new car, they learn SiriusXM is just as easy to access. Plus now everything on their smartphone easily connects to their dashboard. In fact, Fred Jacobs points out that in Techsurvey 2022 the feature most wanted in a new car is Bluetooth (76%) followed by an FM radio (70%) and having a smartphone connector or auxiliary input (57%).
My first blog article of 2022 told how even with older cars, like our 2009 Honda and 2006 Subaru how easy it was to make them connected cars. You can read that article here. https://dicktaylorblog.com/2022/01/09/why-i-stream-all-my-radio-listening/
It doesn’t take a Mensa to realize that this is another hole in the radio listening bucket.
Radio is “free,” with the tradeoff being forced to listened to very long commercial breaks, which radio listeners say is the thing they most dislike about listening to broadcast radio.
Radio’s covenant with its listeners was, you give us your attention to our advertisers, and we will entertain and inform you. Sadly, radio owners kept adding more commercials to each hour while eliminating the very programming elements that attracted listeners.
There’s nothing wrong with advertising, that is when it is in balance with programming content sought by the user. Podcasts understand this and enjoy increasing listening with advertisers seeing a positive benefit from sponsoring them.
No one called Paul Revere’s warning that the British were coming as being negative, and neither should anyone who cares about the radio broadcasting industry call those who are trying to promote positive change, “negative.”
Techsurvey 2022 should be a wake-up call to radio people with trends that show eight in ten people that can now connect a smartphone in their cars. Those who own a car with a “connected system” now spend the majority of the in-car time with digital audio or SiriusXM.
The car is the last beachhead that broadcast radio has left, and it is under Sirius attack.
Techsurvey 2022, like all the surveys that have been done before, use as their database, fans of radio broadcasting. They are the core of our industry and so when we see these folks leaving us for other forms of media, it’s like seeing the canary in the coal mine lying on the floor of its cage.
One of the reasons given by people who still listen to broadcast radio, as to why they continue to listen is, it’s become a habit. When a person buys a new connected car and gets SiriusXM to listen to for free, what is happening is that a new habit is being formed. Not only do they now have access to a myriad of content options, but often their favorite radio personality might be rediscovered hosting one of the music channels.
During the pandemic, SiriusXM removed the paywall for their App as well as listening on a smart speaker, both of which had been available for an extra charge. What Fred Jacobs showed on his webinar was how this positively impacted listening at home, at work and other places for the satellite provider. The habit of listening to SiriusXM was now something that could be done everywhere, and that should keep any radio broadcaster awake at night.
The tipping point is that magic moment
when an idea, trend, or social behavior
crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.
I fear we are at the tipping point.