Walter Sabo is a consultant in media programming, marketing and management. Since 1984, he has been president of Sabo Media, a New York-based programming and management company specializing in profitable content solutions. He also hosts the Westwood One weekly talk show “Sterling on Sunday” using the air name Walter M. Sterling.
Radio World: What is the most pressing technology challenge radio broadcasters will be facing in 2018?
Walter Sabo: Let’s see what year is this? TV, cassette, VCR, videodisc, 8-track, CD, DVD, it’s always something. The unheralded genius of radio is for 100 years it has had the most elegant distribution of all. The newbies will spend billions to match radio’s distribution system, and fail.
RW: What consumer electronics trends will have the most impact on how consumers interact with radio and audio media?
Sabo: It will continue to be their cellphones. … We compete with cellphone texts, calls and apps. But we don’t compete for audio entertainment.
RW: Do you see any technologies relevant to broadcasters that interest you?
Sabo: QGoLive from Harris media lets me broadcast from my smartphone and it sounds as though I’m in a studio. As a result, the need for actual format studios will diminish, and that’s a good thing.
RW: What do the next 12 months hold for consolidation? Has the increasing number of mergers hurt or helped the industry?
Sabo: We have no idea if consolidation has hurt or helped the industry because the NAB has stopped publishing the number of stations that are profitable or not. Before consolidation, half the stations lost money. If that figure has gone down, that’s good for radio. Before consolidation, 8% of all ad dollars went to radio. Now it’s 7%, that’s bad for radio!
RW: Where do you learn about new technology each year, what trade shows or information sources?
Sabo: Through Radio World, media biz bloggers, Talkers, Tom Taylor, Mashable, Media Week. Most of my information about new tech and broadcast software comes from the frontlines, the hosts especially talk show hosts. Many of them broadcast on remote and are constantly seeking better ways to do remotes. The chief engineer used to be the exclusive go-to, but now the money people include hosts in the decision matrix.