habits are changing, and radio companies are transitioning into
multi-platform media providers.
I wondered what my
recent consumption habits would look like, so I cobbled together the
images on this page to represent a typical “day in Paul’s
radio/audio life.” (I’d call this my personal sound cloud, but
the term is taken.)
Hey, there’s “Mike
& Mike” of ESPN, whom I enjoy when driving into work, listening
to their nationally syndicated banter via Red Zebra Broadcasting
station WTEM(AM), “ESPN 980,” on my car stereo. I love “the
boys” as well as ESPN 980’s fine local hosts in the afternoons.
There’s also good
ol’ WTOP(FM), the news monster here in D.C., owned now by Hubbard
Radio. Anyone who doubts the potential power of local radio need only
listen for a day. I usually tune to its 103.5 MHz signal in my car,
though anytime something is going (threatening weather, traffic jams,
warnings about terrorism), ‘TOP is the first place I tune, the
first website I check.
Not depicted here is
a CBC interview and bluegrass music, both of which I listened to in
the car thanks to the fabulous noncommercial WAMU(FM), which extends
its brand locally by using a translator to rebroadcast content from
one of its HD Radio multicasts.
Once in the office,
I want music without words (it’s difficult to edit otherwise), so I
listen to instrumental classical, fed to my desktop via Sky.FM. That
service, launched 10 years ago, offers 60 channels of curated music;
its marketing states, “Unlike other Internet radio companies, we
actually have Channel Directors — real people who know good music —
for each of our stations.” Imagine that!
I currently use
the freebie version of Sky.FM, so I accept its commercials. If I need
a change at my desk, I’ll pop a CD into my computer. Remember CDs?
Or I pause to enjoy some classic country music like The Amazing
Rhythm Aces via YouTube.
Still, most of my
radio/audio listening is after hours.
our outstanding local public outlet for classical music, including
frequent local concerts. I like to crank Mozart in my apartment; I
might listen using my smartphone, getting WETA’s stream online over
WiFi and accessed by my TuneIn app; I then dock the phone into a Coby
home radio so I can turn ‘er up. Usually it’s WETA that wakes me
in the morning. (I like to imagine my neighbors complaining to the
complex manager about hearing too much Academy of St. Martin in the
Speaking of TuneIn,
that’s one of my portals to online audio; it was founded in 2002
and backers include names like Sequoia Capital and Google Ventures. I
find it easy to use to access Jazz24, produced by Pacific Public
Media, the parent of KPLU(FM), and coming to me from the Great
Northwest. TuneIn also lets me listen (I confess) to the occasional
new age channel from, say, Belgium; I’d listen even more if they
didn’t interrupt my Zen vibe with what seem to be particularly
jarring audio spots. (I keep forgetting to sign up for the paid
I’ve listened to
maybe four of TuneIn’s 70,000 stations and 2 million on-demand
Also at home, if
hungry for familiar melodies, I toggle my docked phone over to
iTunes; then Coby starts playing from my selections of Johnny Cash,
Lady Gaga, Mark Knopfler, ZZ Top, Tony Bennett and Alison Krauss
But my favorite
content — especially when I want my cranium stimulated by ideas —
is “In Our Time,” hosted by the remarkable Melvyn Bragg. I’m an
unabashed, hyperventilating fan, as I noted recently on the Radio
“In Our Time”
comes from BBC Radio 4, and I listen via iTunes podcast, downloaded
via my home PC and played back mostly at the gym on my smartphone
strapped to my arm. I am working my way up in time through its more
than 500 episodes. I hope Baron Bragg, 74, keeps cranking out new
ones for a long time.
So, on a given day,
I listened to AM, FM and streaming, as well as songs and words I’d
downloaded. I listened to content nationally syndicated, or fed from
abroad, or produced up the street. I heard locally produced music
hosted by savvy announcers; smart-ass chat by local sports talkers;
and somewhat automated, if curated, streamed music with little
personality injected. I heard radio via broadcast into my car, as
well as time-shifted “radio” and other downloaded content via
smartphone plugged into that car. I heard audio via streams into my
bedroom, coming from traditional and “new” radio entities. While
I didn’t use a Bluetooth device, satellite, Spotify or Pandora,
I’ve consumed or played with them, too.
Gilbert and Sullivan, it turns out that — in terms of consuming
radio and audio — I am the very model of a modern multimedia maven.
This is the
experience of one 53-year-old American male. Your results may differ.
How has your personal consumption changed, and what does that tell
you about the radio biz? Write me at email@example.com.
very definition of the word “radio” is under debate, as we’ve
noted. But for me, the lesson of this experience is not that radio is
doomed; far from it. Rather, radio is vibrant and proliferating, but
also evolving. Radio companies — “multiplatform audio content
providers” — must plan accordingly.