Tag Archives: HBR

Why I Stream ALL My Radio Listening

Twelve year ago, radio broadcast engineer Tom Ray, penned these words: “Unless we give Joe Consumer a reason to go out and purchase an HD Radio for his car – until he can obtain it easily and at a reasonable cost, and a device that works – I fear HD Radio is going to go the way of FM quad and AM stereo, relegated to the scrap pile of history.”

Tom Ray wrote his article for Radio World when he was the vice president/corporate director of engineering for Buckley Broadcasting/WOR Radio in New York City. He was a strong and vocal supporter of HD Radio and his WOR was one of the first AMs on the air with an HD Radio signal. So, any broadcaster that read Tom’s article, “HD Radio Shouldn’t Be This Hard,” should have taken it as a wake-up call about steps the radio industry needed to take to stay relevant in their listeners’ lives.

Buying a New Car in 2010

Tom is a loyal Ford customer, so when his Explorer went to the automobile graveyard with 230,000-miles on it, Tom wanted to get a new Ford Escape, equipped with HD Radio. The only problem was, Ford wasn’t putting HD Radios into their Escapes, instead, they were pushing Satellite Radio. (Tom noted that his wife listened only to Satellite Radio in her car, saying “in her opinion there is nothing worth listening to in New York’s Hudson Valley, 50 miles north of New York City.)

This should have been yet another radio industry wake-up call about its future.

I encourage you to click on the link and read what Tom Ray wrote a dozen years ago about how difficult it was to put an HD Radio into a new car which, at that time, didn’t offer OEM HD Radios and how he, as a broadcast engineer, was totally frustrated trying to install an aftermarket one.

Streaming Radio at Home

Since Christmas 2017, when my wife gave me my first Amazon Echo smart speaker, our Echo family has quickly grown to four of these devices. There is nowhere you can be in our home and not ask Alexa for something.

Since 2017, all of our in-home radio listening is via streaming.

While we also occasionally streamed radio in the car, on all of our road trips from 2018-2021, SiriusXM always seemed to be offering a 3-month free listening trial that I can honestly say we enjoyed the listening to. But, I’ve never been a subscriber, because other than road trips I spend very little time in the car.

Streaming Radio in the Car

In October, while enjoying my latest free 3-month trial for SiriusXM radio, I decided it was time to bring my in-house streaming radio habit into both of our cars. We own a 2006 Subaru Forester and a 2009 Honda Accord.

The Subaru doesn’t have an AUX input, the Honda does.

Streaming in the Subaru was accomplished with a Blue Tooth receiver that will broadcast on any FM frequency (88.1 works best). In the Honda, this same device’s output was plugged into an AUX receptacle.

The result is, as soon as either my wife or myself enters one of our cars, the Nulaxy KM18 immediately pairs with our iPhones. I installed the AINOPE Car Phone Holder Mount to hold our phones, and keep them easily assessible to control whatever we would like to listen to.

Total cost for each car: $33.43. Time to install, virtually nil. I just plugged the Nulaxy KM18 into a power port and it was operational. The AINIOPE holder easily clamps to an air vent on the dashboard and holds any smartphone.

Unlike the nightmare that Tom Ray experienced back in 2010 trying to put HD Radio into his car, this installation by me, a non-engineer, was a piece of cake.

A Call to Action

I recently sat in on a Radio World webinar called “A Call to Action, radio’s existential battle for the dash.” Paul McLane, Managing Director of Content/Editor in Chief of Radio World at Radio World/Future U.S., hosted the webinar and did an excellent job. However, one particular piece of information shared during the presentation that I thought was crucial was, how Mercedes Benz was equipping their vehicles’ radio screens with the following pre-sets: SiriusXM, FM, AM and TuneIn Radio.

TuneIn Radio is the App I use for most of my radio listening, but why was it chosen by Mercedes Benz? Turns out the answer is, “TuneIn’s radio stations can be accessed worldwide in 197 countries on more than 200 different platforms and devices.” TuneIn says it “provides the displaced radio listener a connection to home with local, national, and international stations anywhere they go and on any device.”

In other words, why would any audio consumer need DAB, DAB+, Digital Radio Mondiale, HD Radio, AM or FM when they can receive any radio station in crystal clear audio via streaming?

With the exception of the proprietary content offered by SiriusXM, everything else is available via streaming at no charge.

Cellular Plan

Now it goes without saying, that streaming consumes data. Each cellphone service provider offers different plans and different price rates. My wife and I are on Verizon’s unlimited phone/text/data plan. We have no landline phone in our home and our iPhones are our lifeline to being connected with each other, our family, our community and the world.

I’ve found streaming radio in our cars provides us with audio quality that is pristine. There’s no buffering or dropout, and it’s been a more reliable signal than AM, FM or SiriusXM radio, especially when traveling through tunnels.

Streaming Apps

I thought you might be interested in knowing what streaming Apps I have on my iPhone, here’s the current list:

  • TuneIn Pro
  • Audacy
  • Pandora
  • Spotify
  • Amazon Music
  • NPR ONE
  • YouTube
  • Simple Radio
  • StreamS
  • Apple Podcasts
  • AccuRadio
  • 650AM WSM
  • Stitcher

Why I Prefer Streaming My Radio

We live far enough away from Washington, D.C. that radio signals for WTOP or WETA experience lots of noise and dropout, depending atmospherics, sometimes making them totally unlistenable. However, their streams are always crystal clear.

This fall Sue and I escaped to Cape Cod for a week and when I get on the peninsula, I love turning on WFCC – Cape Cod’s Classical station – 107.5 FM. Now with streaming radio, I can dial up WFCC on my TuneIn radio App and listen when we’re back home in Virginia.

Full disclosure, I am the midday DJ on WMEX-FM in Rochester, NH. But even if I weren’t on the station, WMEX-FM would be my #1 pre-set for streaming. Gary James, the station’s morning man and program director, puts together a music mix that I find absolutely fabulous. It’s the music of my life.

Which brings me to another important point, radio today is global. No longer is your radio station competing just with other local stations, but radio that is streaming from anywhere on planet Earth.

Streaming also makes it possible for ON DEMAND spoken word radio, also known as Podcasts, to be easily available in the car.

Simington on Streaming

FCC commissioner Nathan Simington recently addressed Ohio broadcasters saying, “content delivery power had shifted away from broadcasters – stations and networks – and toward ‘online platforms,’ something he thinks the FCC needs to recognize in its quadrennial review of media ownership regs.”

He warned that:

  1. “Online media platforms are growing rapidly and threaten dominance over traditional media platforms; and
  2. Broadcast advertising revenue has flatlined, having been siphoned off from higher margin online platforms.”

The Future is Streaming

88% of the world’s population now uses mobile broadband as its main source of internet access, and nearly 90% of homes in the United States now have internet streaming. 2021 saw an estimated 22% ad industry growth rate, which Magna Global said was “the highest growth rate ever recorded” by this agency, beating a 12.5% growth rate recorded in the year 2000. The caveat however is, digital dominated traditional advertising raking in 64.4% of the growth in ad spending.

RAIN reports “The U.S. recorded music industry will exceed a 48-year revenue record set in 1999 (based on current estimates),” all coming from revenues paid by streaming music services.

The Harvard Business Review recently published “4 Principles to Guide Your Digital Transformation,” by Greg Satell, Andrea Kates and Todd McLees. In it, the authors wrote, “digital transformation is not just about technology. We’re desperately in need of a shift in focus. Leaders must inspire and empower their entire organization to boldly reimagine their work environment, customer needs, product offering, and even the purpose of the enterprise.”

Tom Ray was the proverbial “canary in the coal shaft” back in 2010, with few paying attention. Sadly, based on the early news coming out of the 2022 CES in Las Vegas, nothing has changed.

We’re living in a communications revolution,

bringing about changes that will be both

permanent and irreversible.

Revolutions never maintain or preserve the status quo.

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Why do people buy what they buy?

120If you’re in sales, this is probably the question that haunts you most: Why do people do the things they do?

Daniel Pink recently wrote a book “To Sell is Human” and in the book, he tells us, we are all in sales today. In fact, we may not even be aware that we are selling all the time. Daniel told the Harvard Business Review:

“I’m obviously selling books because that’s a part of my business. But if you go beyond that, I (also spent my) time trying to convince an editor to abandon a stupid idea for a story. I tried to get an airline gate agent to switch his seat. I’ve got kids. So, I’m trying to persuade my kids to do things. I have various people I do business with. And I’m trying to get them to see it my way, rather than their way, to go my direction, rather than their direction.”

“And when you actually tease it all out, I’m spending an enormous amount of time selling.”

We’re All in Sales

Looking at this from a broadcaster point of view, we too are all in sales, NOT just the people in the sales department.

Programmers are selling their ideas to management and if management gives them enough rope, they then have to sell those ideas to their air staff who then has to sell the concept to the listeners.

Events Change Our World in a Heartbeat

Sometimes events change the dynamics of what people want, need and do. The recent hurricanes have certainly had that effect on broadcasting.

In Houston, KTRH was ranked #11. 122Then Houston was hit by Hurricane Harvey and KTRH zoomed to #3, but soon after the impact of the storm began to fade and life in Houston began its long road back to “normal,” KTRH sank back to #15.

I ran a news-talk-information AM radio station back in the 90s in Atlantic City and in spite of our big commitment to local news and information, research showed that people would rather spend their day with one of the many FM music stations. However, they knew in times of coastal storms or other emergencies, our AM radio station was the one to turn to.

Radio cannot live waiting for the next emergency.

iPhones vs Androids

We all know that iPhones have not activated the FM chip to receive OTA FM radio broadcasts in their older iPhones. Plus Apple’s newest iPhones (7, 8 & X) don’t even have an FM chip in them to activate. So, if having an FM chip in their smartphone was important to Apple’s customers, why do people keeping buying iPhones? Maybe it is because they use them for other things.

In the USA Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS mobile operating systems are sharing the market about evenly says John Koetsier writing in Forbes. However what we’ve seen over the last couple of years is that what they don’t share equally is commerce. iOS is used to make more online purchases than Android. If you’re selling stuff, that’s an important distinction and its why Apps are usually first developed for the Apple Store and then later for Android devices.

Digital Cameras

I recently read an article that said if digital cameras were to stay relevant, they should connect to the internet. Guess what, they now can. Here are seven of the best WiFi cameras on the market according to Lifewire.

Should they also be able to make & receive calls, texts? Contain an FM chip?

As everything becomes connected to the internet should they also be able to receive OTA broadcast?

Electric Cars

BMW was the first car company I was aware of, that when it introduced its all electric car said it would not contain an AM radio. BMW said they couldn’t isolate the noise interference it would cause to the AM signals.

Funny, but I remember when cars used to have only an AM radio and that isolating an alternator was often necessary to not get horrific noise through the speakers. Is this really that much of a problem or has BMW carefully defined its customer’s wants, needs and desires?

Tesla in introducing their new Model 3 also said AM radio would not be part of the center stack options.

Do you think this will give people pause in buying an electric vehicle?

Go with the Flow

None of these things really represent a change in why people do the things they do. Roy H. Williams, the Wizard of Ads, has been writing about these things for decades.

In his book “Secret Formulas of the Wizard of Ads” in Chapter 70 “Better Jewelry, Better Jeweler,” Roy poses this question: “If you had to choose between selling what you wanted to sell, or what the majority of people wanted to buy, which would you choose?” Your future success is determined largely by your answer to that very question says Roy.

Bringing this back to broadcasting, AM, FM, digital, TV, cable, streaming is really nothing more than a display case in a jewelry store. It’s what you put into that display case that matters.

Your success comes down to serving your viewer or listener in the very way they want to be served.

If you’re in sync with the people of your broadcast property’s service area, then you will enjoy their business and they will demand you be easily accessible on the latest device.

The curve ball today is connecting your programming to the internet. The internet is a global community. You can’t be all things to all people. If you try, you will fail.

Define your market, know what they want, then serve it up to them. It’s OK to put it on the internet as long as you stay true to the people’s wants and needs that you aim to serve.

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