Tag Archives: Rodney Dangerfield

What I Recently Witnessed About Radio Use

Sue & I just returned from a seven week trip out west to visit our children and grandchildren who are living in Nevada, Montana and Washington. For me, our trip would also be a chance to witness how radio is used (or not used) in three different households, as well as in hotels, businesses and public transportation. What I would witness, was concerning.

Nevada

In Nevada, I noticed that for a household of seven, not a single radio was to be found. Audio was accessed by asking Alexa (Amazon Echo) to play something or a particular playlist was sent wirelessly to speakers via someone’s iPhone. Everyone, even the very youngest grandchild, who’s five, had their own iPhone.

In a house where both parents work, and can be called out at any hour of the day, this type of communications for all family members becomes a necessity.

Radio listening, if done at all, was something only done when in the car. Television, was connected to a cable bundle and only CNN or Netflix seemed to get viewed. The grandkids spent most of their time playing video games on the house computer, game console or their iPhones.

Montana

Here a Sonos home speaker system had been installed in the home. I found that two different local radio stations (country & classic rock) were programmed into rotation, along with an Amazon Echo smart speaker. Our grandkids called up songs they wanted to hear by asking Alexa to play them, so in the week we spent, Alexa was pretty much the default choice for anything musically played.

Television programs were all streamed via YouTube TV.

Radio pre-sets in the car were set to several country stations, several classic rock stations, several contemporary music stations and an oldies station. In all, 22 different radio stations were loaded onto the pre-sets. I added KBMC to that pre-set list when we borrowed the car a couple of times. KBMC programs a variety of jazz and classical music.

Washington

Our stay in the State of Washington took place on Whidbey Island. The only radio signal licensed on the island plays regional Mexican music and the majority of its content is in Spanish. So, it wasn’t surprising to find the pre-sets on the car radio did not include KNZW – La Zeta 103.3.

What was surprising was to see that all the pre-sets were to HD1 signals in this Mazda 6 sedan. (It appears Mazda has their radio default to HD signals and you have to toggle it off to get FM signals.) Since the island is just across the water from Seattle, all of the pre-sets were to Seattle radio stations. The two that dominated the listening in the car were KSWD (Audacy’s 94.1 The Sound) when mom was behind the wheel and KQMV (Hubbard’s Movin’ 92.5) when either of the grand kids got control of the radio. However, what is dispiriting to witness is how frequently the radio stations get changed whenever something comes on that they don’t wish to hear. When commercials come on, the station gets changed. Likewise, when songs they don’t like come on, the station gets changed. It’s like watching football using the Red Zone.

Here again, not a single radio receiver was to be found inside the home.

The Bus & Hotels

When we departed Whidbey Island, we took a bus into Seattle. On the bus we listened to KSWD 94.1 The Sound out of Seattle. It provided a nice sound track for the ride and the bus driver never changed the station for the two hours it took to reach our destination.

Every hotel room we stayed in featured flat screen TVs but none had a radio. The old clock radios have been replaced by digital clock/USB charging stations for our iPhones, iPads and laptop computers.

Summing It All Up

I realize there is nothing scientific about this, it’s all anecdotal, but it was a dose of reality that confirms much of the research I’m reading about today’s radio landscape.

No one in our seven weeks on the road tuned into any AM radio station. FM, was radio to everyone, but then, only in their vehicles. Listening to radio in the home was not possible, because there was only one radio in any of the homes we stayed at and that was in the garage.

HD Radio sounds great, but in all honesty, the one family that had this easily accessible in their car, probably didn’t know that’s what they were listening to and it certainly wasn’t the reason they were listening to any particular station.

With the exception of our two hour bus ride, radio exposure could be measured in short segments, that only happened to occur because the radio comes on with the ignition switch. Sadly, changing radio stations occurs constantly, so any commercial content never gets heard.

Likewise, businesses we frequented either had their own franchise “radio station,” like Walmart Radio or streamed a music channel from some other music service they subscribed to.

In our travels, we didn’t see a TV commercial, billboard or bumper sticker for any radio station. Lots of shirts and sweatshirts promoting lots of things, but not one for any radio station.

Radio, it would appear, has become the Rodney Dangerfield of media.

“We don’t get no respect.”

But then maybe, it’s a self-inflicted situation

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The End of Facebook…

…is about as likely as the end of radio. I’m sure I got your attention with that headline. But you might be surprised to learn that Facebook and radio have a lot more in common than you ever gave much thought to.

A study by two Princeton researchers in 2014 created quite a stir when they announced that Facebook would undergo a rapid decline in the coming years. They predicted that Facebook would lose 80% of its peak user base between 2015 and 2017.

Facebook folks, using the same flawed research techniques as those used in the study predicted that Princeton University would only have half of its current enrollment by 2018 and zero students by 2021. They were making a point, those fun folks at Facebook.

This whole dust-up reminded me of all that we in radio have been going through of late; everyone predicting our demise.

Gawd, I feel old to tell you how many end times of radio I’ve lived through. The 8-track tape player was going to put us out of business, then the cassette player, then the CB radio (never happened good buddy, but are CB radios still around?) then the CD player & CD changer, then the cell phone, then the iPod, then the Smartphone, then satellite radio and now Internet radio.  It never happened, but oh, did folks worry that it might.

Let’s face it, there are times we like to listen to our own music; our favorite tunes. I’m a radio guy and I do it. Nothing to be ashamed of. And how did all those tunes get bought and loaded into my digital music playing device? I heard them on the radio, that’s how.

Now I would like to say to Facebook, welcome to our world, the world of radio. Both over-the-air radio and Facebook are ubiquitous and when you get that big you suddenly find that your users take you for granted. They simply expect you to always be there when they want you, but they no longer talk-you-up all the time because you’re no longer the shiny, new thing in the world.

Radio appears to be losing its younger audience these days. Facebook is reported to be hemorrhaging fresh faced teens as well. Welcome to the consumer group of former leisure suit wearers.

Did you know that 45% of of Internet users over 65-years of age use Facebook?*  That means they’ve been AARP members for 15 years now; minimum.

Facebook likes to tell the world they have 1.4 billion users, but when we roll that back to just the USA it only amounts to around 56% percent of the population of 316 million Americans. Radio reaches 92% of Americans over the age of 12 and that number is only down 2% in the last decade. So radio reaches more people every week than use Facebook, but from the advertising world perspective, radio might as well be Rodney Dangerfield. We don’t get no respect.

Facebook likes to combine the USA stats with the Canada stats. We’re all family right? Wrong. Canada, as it turns out, is the country with the most active Facebook users. When you combine Canada’s users with those “lazy Americans” it makes the USA performance appear to be a little more robust.

I have 393 friends on Facebook. The average number of Facebook friends a person has is 245, so I’m above average (not that I care). My radio stations had tens of thousands of “friends” (we called them listeners) and that I DID care about!

The average radio listener listens to radio over 2 hours a day. In that amount of time, they might come in contact with about 20 to 30 ads. The average amount of posts that a Facebook book user is confronted with when they log on is around 1,500 and that’s in about 20-minutes time.

And while I’m talking about time spent with radio and Facebook, the average amount of time a Facebook user spends on Facebook per month is 8.3 hours. Now compare that with the amount of time a radio listener spends with radio in a month; 66 hours.

That’s over 8-times as much time spent listening to radio as browsing Facebook.

Radio is 93 years old. Facebook is just a teenager and like a teenager it really doesn’t know what it wants to be when it grows up.

Once upon a time, radio stations tried to be all things to all people. Then it began to specialize into various formats, demographics and lifestyles. Facebook is still in that mode of trying to be all things to all people. Good luck with that!

So am I telling you Facebook is over? Not at all. But if perception is reality, then Facebook is feeling the pain of radio.

Radio is the most impactful medium in the world today. In the history of innovation, the History Channel ranked radio as the #2 most important invention of all time (the Smartphone was #1). However, when you look at how it’s treated by the “Mad Men” it sure doesn’t feel that way.

At the moment those ad guys think things go better with Facebook. But like the soft drink Coca Cola that started out with a single beverage product (today it’s over 3,500) Facebook was created by Mark Zuckerberg to provide a simple and easy way for college students to connect with other college students. Today, that concept feels like ancient history.

By the way, the social media innovation for college students to communicate with other college students – Facebook – today only sees 11% of US college student social network users posting to Facebook daily.

Wall Street says you’re worth $128 to Facebook.

I’m here to tell you, that to your local radio station, you’re worth so much more than that.

You’re family.

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*Earlier version said: “Did you know that 45% of Facebook users are over 65 years of age?” which was incorrect.  Source: http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/by-the-numbers-17-amazing-facebook-stats/4/

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