With the 2023 NAB Show in Las Vegas just a few days away, Radio World is continuing to ask exhibitors and industry leaders about their plans and expectations. Recently, we spoke with Tony Coles, the metro division president for iHeartMedia and president of the Black Information Network (BIN).
Radio World: Heading into the NAB Show, what do you consider to be the most important issue or challenge for radio broadcast owners and executives right now?
Tony Coles: Like all media companies, the challenges we face continue to shift and evolve as the needs of our listeners and clients change. To overcome these challenges, radio broadcast owners and executives must be willing to invest in new technology, seek new and more diverse talent and innovate at a time when it is easy to avoid risk.
RW: What technologies or new media platforms are you watching closely, for their potential impact on how radio organizations do business?
Coles: The Metaverse and AI are incredibly exciting. iHeartMedia already has a significant presence in the Metaverse with iHeartLand on Fortnite and Roblox, and the engagement from listeners, advertisers and artists is a great indication that we have only scratched the surface of what is possible. At the same time, the applications of AI will be game changing as the technology continues to advance. The potential is unlimited and could give radio professionals the ability to spend more time doing what we do best, connecting with consumers and clients.
RW: Over the next three years, what will be the most important change or evolution in how radio companies are run?
Coles: To continue to be everywhere listeners are, on every platform available. Also, the use of artificial intelligence can make our industry even more nimble and responsive. Whether you are responding to a natural disaster, creating content to entertain and inform, or seeking to get better results for your clients, there are so many aspects of the broadcast industry that AI can improve. More importantly, those who embrace new technology and use it to their advantage, to spend more time on creativity and innovation, will lead the industry.
RW: What should we know about the recent activities of BIN?
Coles: BIN continues to be focused on growth in order to have the biggest impact in Black America. We’ve added more stations, including WMFN in Chicago, and developed more partnerships with other Black media outlets such as the print and digital news outlets of Real Times Media. Our increased podcasting efforts and community-focused programs like the 100,000 Careers program with Career Builder are also examples of our focus on digging deeper into the headlines and creating change.
RW: What else will you be watching for at NAB, or what else should radio managers be thinking about?
Coles: Curiosity. The future belongs to the curious, and I want to spend my time looking for and connecting with those who are curious. Whether it is technology that sparks questions or people questioning the present, I will be watching for and listening to those who share my excitement and curiosity for our industry.