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Things Splinter

An Intelligent Outsider Puts New Media in Perspective

New consumer technologies don’t replace old ones; they add on.

That was a takeaway for radio in remarks by David Pogue, who delivered one of the better keynote speeches we’ve heard when he spoke at the fall NAB Radio Show. (We wrap up coverage of the convention with product news in this Nov. 5 issue.)

The technology columnist for the New York Times offered an animated, entertaining overview of trends in new consumer media: VoIP over cell phones. Google Mobile. Voice-to-text.

The future is all about delivering content on demand, Pogue said, and the rising generation of consumers expects products to include fast forward/rewind as a matter of course, to allow access to the content when the user wants it, as seen for example in the free online video service

Similarly, in the world of Web 2.0, users are accustomed to defining the content, as in blogs, Facebook and so forth. And wireless functionality, he said, will be ubiquitous.

Rather than run frightened from such changes, Pogue implied, radio managers should incorporate them better into their thinking.

He pulled up a Facebook page on his big video screen and pointed out the many customized links and applications the user had chosen. “Why isn’t a radio station on that page?” he asked. “There’s no technical reason.”

He held up a Microsoft Zune player, noting that it at least offered FM reception, unlike many other MP3 players, but lamented, “Find out why none of these things have AM in them!”

He urged radio executives, “Tell Apple to put radio in iPods. Put pressure on them! Don’t you have a lobbying arm?” He said it with a smile, but the nervous chuckles in the room were telling. And Pogue drew applause when he mused that perhaps the name of the industry association should be not the National Association of Broadcasters but the National Association of Suppliers of Audio.

It was a fun, sprightly presentation from an intelligent outsider’s perspective. “Things splinter, they don’t replace,” he said. “They add on. Overcome the little obstacles in your way.” It was a welcome reminder that new consumer technologies can be met with enthusiasm rather than our industry’s habitual gloom.

— Radio World