Critical shifts in business are on the minds
of Daniel Anstandig, CEO of Listener Driven Radio, and Jon Erdahl, president of
3D Media Ventures. The duo will talk about such disruptive changes at a
broadcast management session of the spring NAB Show.
says he and Erdahl speak together at industry events to address the topic of “adaptive”
leadership at a time when every industry seems to be undergoing being disruption.
At a time when U.S. commercial radio is growing only slowly, they say, some
small and mid-sized broadcast companies have achieved double-digit growth by
critical shift in the radio industry is the way the “spot economy” has changed.
Erdahl says that as broadcasters, “We don’t own accounts anymore.” Or as Anstandig
put it, salespeople “may identify an account as a radio spender” and chase only
those accounts. “We think that’s a mistake.”
Erdahl believe radio has to start looking outside the confines of the traditional
broadcast market to the broader media world, especially online, and towards a multi-platform
approach. New, non-traditional digital revenue can in fact be had, he said,
citing examples of clients who are working with major brands that sponsor
interactive live programming.
Strong leaders also
understand that competition is no longer just with other radio broadcasters;
yet Anstandig says insularity remains an overarching challenge for radio.
companies look at other competing groups and see growth potential, so they set
about to steal audience. Instead, he said, they should look outside the lines
“We look at the
competition not just as broadcast stations, but services like Pandora, Spotify
and Grooveshark — services that take time spent away from radio that aren’t
necessarily tracked in ratings, that earn revenue that aren’t necessarily
tracked in revenue reports.”
says it’s “the guys in the garage, inventing the next thing, that we have to
look out for.” CEOs are “scrambling so much as mini-CFOs,” he observes, so they’re
not taking stock of what’s going on. They only see what’s in front of them, and
react, resulting in “random acts of engineering” rather than innovation.
emphasizes the importance of managers acting like entrepreneurs, seeing
potential, moving in a problem-solving and real-time management mentality.
“There’s a big
difference between knee-jerk and real-time adaptability,” he said. Programmers
think they have a feedback loop with listener testing, “but there’s several
weeks or months between when you talk to the audience and when you make an
adaptation.” His company helps involve the audience in real time because
Anstandig believes broadcasters need systems to absorb input from their real
customers constantly. Managers, he says, can become separated from that
on-air programming can be adaptive in real time,” Anstandig argues. “Listener
Driven Radio puts the audience in control of real-time music decisions,” though
programmers still set the playlist that listeners choose from.
Media’s 97x, WUSN (FM), in Tampa, Fla., relaunched and rebranded in January using
technology provided by Listener Driven Radio, letting listeners program the
entire daypart via a mobile app and the station’s website. Listeners can vote
on songs from the station’s inventory to add to the playlist, or vote to move a
song up or down in position. Within a week Anstandig says the station had 2.1
million votes from 300,000 unique voters.
shifts are happening inside stations, too. The “elephant in the room,” Erdahl
says, is that broadcasters need to stop recycling sales talent and recruit new.
“Successful clients in mid-sized groups are going outside the norm, hiring
account execs that aren’t broadcasters.”
“There are a host of recruiting sources that
broadcasters aren’t even utilizing. If you have only a staff of three, then
something is always going to suffer, and often that is strategy.” So, he
advises, you need to find people who are very qualified, even if that requires
looking outside of the business. “Where are you going to find the new pool of
Anstandig and Erdahl work primarily with CEOs
of small and mid-size broadcast companies in mid-sized markets because, they
say, that’s where the innovations are happening. “By working with the CEO
first, it ensures that we have a strategy for growth working with the
GMs … it has to start at the top,” Erdahl said.
concludes that broadcasters should not simply “circle the wagons” nor “wait for
the competitor across the street. Instead, as broadcasters, “We need to do it
The session “Ten Critical Business Shifts for
Radio Broadcasters” takes place Tuesday April 9 at 10:30 a.m. in the Broadcast
Paul Riismandel is a veteran of community and
college radio. He is co-founder and technology editor of RadioSurvivor.com.