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Radio Show: Car Real Estate Scramble

Panel looks at the future of the dashboard radio experience

After nearly a century of unimpeded access to auto dashboards, radio broadcasters may be facing new challenges in getting their content into drivers’ and passengers’ ears.

That blunt message came at the “New Developments for Connected Cars” session Thursday morning at the Radio Show. The panel, moderated by Radio World Editor in Chief Paul McLane, featured representatives of several of the gatekeepers who now decide where radio appears on dashboards … if it even appears at all in the future as customer preferences change.

“There’s a place for AM and FM in vehicles, but if it comes down to a question of cost — sorry,” said Scott Burnell of Ford’s Business Development and Partner Management division. “The preferences are what should scare broadcasters,” he said, noting that younger audiences aren’t making terrestrial radio a top priority for their in-car entertainment. “There’s going to be more entities fighting for that real estate on that 8-inch screen in the car,” he explained.

One piece of advice the panelists offered broadcasters: focus on outreach to local car dealers. Burnell said Pandora is already training dealers to show car buyers exactly how they can access its services when they get their new vehicles. He suggested broadcasters should do the same, to ensure that their stations are on presets and waiting for drivers as soon as they take delivery of a new car.