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I Have Concerns About the Cloud

It’s a new Wild West — is it good for radio (and society)?

The author is chief engineer of Monadnock Broadcasting Group and Saga Communications. Opinions are his own.

Radio World’s webcast “Running Radio Today: Produce,” which streamed earlier this year, provided an interesting perspective on IT technology and its impact on how we work and conduct business, including how we will be doing radio in the not-too-distant future.

Ira Wilner

Of course, not only can we eliminate brick-and-mortar studios and offices, we can also eliminate OTA transmitters and towers, and move everything into the cloud and onto 5G platforms.

But we also have to look at what this means for future security, survival and commerce. We’ve already surrendered ourselves to online shopping. What will happen to our cities and towns and downtown streets? Even supermarkets may vanish due to the competition from the likes of Amazon’s perfect robotic door-to-door delivery of goods such as food.

What does this mean for human society? Facebook will be the only live interaction? No local, live radio hosts you trust into your home? 

I’m concerned about the impact on human behavior and emotional well-being. Of course, we know some of the worst has already happened regarding the great political divide and so much static obscuring facts from fiction. Much of this polarization has been accomplished by a combination of social media and some broadcasters who gamed the system over the past 20 years.

As for everything moving to the cloud as a service — Microsoft Office, Adobe imaging, video and audio apps and almost everything else has been moving in that direction. So what happens when you can’t pay for it? You fall on hard times? You’re not in the moneyed class anymore? 

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Older computers with older software that you “owned perpetually” would have still been available to you as long as you paid your energy bill. Not so with the cloud. Miss one payment and you’re shut off. Knowing small-market radio, where there were many lean months and bank loans to help pay the bills and salaries, if you miss your cloud automation and audio processor payment, you’re gone!

I see this move towards billion-dollar cloud-based server farms as part of the trend to enrich the few by leaving everyone else out on a limb. 

A few huge companies will literally run the world and will make government subservient to them! It’s already happening globally, even in so-called socialist countries where the oligarchs are the real owners and dealmakers. But unlike the 20th century when our government stepped in to regulate the few giants, AT&T Bell System, the railroads, etc., we have a new Wild West where anything goes. 

I’m not sure where this is heading us. But I’m trying to look at the broader picture.

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