Radio’s death has been greatly exaggerated for the past 20 years. Since digital audio became a thing, people have been sounding the alarm that traditional radio is on its last legs.
Those last legs continue to run, and the reason has nothing to do with closing the tech gap, app growth, or the advantage radio has always had in monetizing its product.
The reason is what people hear coming out of the speakers. Ears will gravitate toward the source of the most compelling content, and because radio employs experienced professionals creating and managing a product people enjoy, it continues to flourish.
Radio’s great challenge is continuing to find, manage, and showcase unique talent. As massive radio companies have sought ways to manage expenses, the quality of the talent and management has declined – and it continues to.
For many years, managers have been compensated more for their ability to streamline an operation than guide it to greatness. With the behemoth companies, it’s not about being great anymore – it’s about disguising how a station is becoming more and more mediocre. Who can be fired without a negative effect on the station’s sound? Who is capable of doing two (or three) jobs instead of one? Answering those questions is at the heart of managing radio in 2019.
One of the great advantages that radio enjoys over digital audio delivery is the ease with which radio content is delivered in cars. Because of wireless internet and smart phones, that advantage has diminished over the last decade. Radio needs to deliver on the promise that motivated auto makers to begin installing radios in cars almost 90 years ago – showcasing indispensable content.
That takes work, creativity, and embracing some manageable risk. Those are the qualities radio managers need to exhibit – not just an enthusiasm for skillfully wielding a red pen during budget time.
Radio can survive and thrive, but it will take a commitment to great content that few big companies are willing to indulge. Radio isn’t dying, but if it does, that death will likely be self-inflicted.