Broadcast Radio vs. Big Streaming
wire everywhere a wire — and a bill for bandwidth.
words describe broadcast radio’s reaction to the idea of accepting
advertising from, and otherwise promoting, streaming audio services
such as Pandora and iTunes Radio.
young whippersnapper services position themselves as the latest,
greatest audio experiences, proclaiming broadcast stations to be old
news. Yet in their continuous desire to utilize broadcast airwaves to
growth audience, they validate our domination of every market in
the comments about articles regarding this subject and you’ll be
treated to tirades about broadcast radio’s greedy nature in taking
the cash offered by our newly competitive streaming brethren. Way
back in the day, similar vitriol circulated when television stations
initially purchased ads on radio. We saw it happen again when Sirius
and XM launched and bought big schedules on broadcast radio to
advertise the advantages of subscribing to the new satellite radio.
mantra from the radio broadcast peanut gallery has been the same:
Isn’t broadcast radio being shortsighted in selling its audience
away to competing new media?
you believe, each time this happens, the point becomes moot, because
one group or another takes the cash for the ads, and any money not
consumed by broadcast radio turns up somewhere else — television,
outdoor, print or now, online/mobile.
or not broadcast radio takes the advertising schedules, new streaming
media will find a way to get the word out.
important, and with due respect to those who feel strongly about the
advertising/marketing issue, this concern is not where the real audio
war is happening. The most important user battles involve access to
the car audio system and to mobile devices.
long as access to get great entertainment is as easy as pushing a
button, broadcast radio will dominate. The minute a consumer can get
Pandora or others with the push of a button — without hooking up
wires, connecting Bluetooth or paying for a costly data streaming
mobile device — broadcasters will have a serious issue.
lots of geeky audiophiles like me and you have been listening to
streaming media for years in our cars, but for most people (here’s
the shocker!) it’s just not that important. Effort, technical
knowledge and dependability will rule results.
now is the time to act! To keep our competitive advantage, we need to
lobby and assist car radio manufacturers in designing easy-to-use
radios that get the best possible FM, HD Radio and yes, AM
performance. Often, AM is unlistenable or worse, sometimes even
missing from the radio dashboard. With HD, full market coverage is
still problematic; FM sometimes carries no metadata. As for mobile,
with time rapidly increasing on phones and other devices, we need
more than just streaming apps of our broadcast stations — we need
actual tuners for automatic reception that don’t require data use.
number two is being waged over content. Broadcast radio continues to
pump out music jukeboxes at our own industry peril. Like it or not,
behaviorally based music services like Pandora will be quite
appealing for a lot of listeners if and when a simple delivery method
comes to life.
radio must focus on growing local personalities to deliver
entertaining and important information that creates an emotional
connection with listeners. We must continue to watch our commercial
loads, raising rates rather than the number of units we run per hour.
Although public radio has certainly stepped up its game on HD Radio,
for the most part the digital service’s new multicast channels
continue to suffer from a lack of unique or interesting content. And
perhaps as important as anything else, we must consistently inject
fun into broadcast radio.
of use and engagement are the keys. Let’s put the pedal to the
author is president of Lapidus Media and a longtime contributor.