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Smyth on ‘The Mad Dash’

Current connected dashboard disruption does not mean broadcast radio is doomed, says Greater Media executive

While broadcast radio is in a disruptive phase, it is not doomed, not from Pandora, nor from other audio entertainment options in the connected dashboard.

So says Greater Media CEO Peter Smyth in his latest “From the Corner Office” blog, entitled, “The Mad Dash.”

The executive calls tech pronouncements that automakers will drop radio receivers from the dash within the next five years as “spin.”

“The auto makers who are focusing so completely on the technology of the connected car do not have deep history or experience with software, the user experience, or consumer tastes and trends in audio entertainment,” writes Smyth. “They are in an early phase of a process that will take time to find its focus.”

At the same time, wireless providers and consumer electronics companies who supply OEMs and the auto aftermarket are highly interested in getting a slice of any financial transactions that will occur in the connected car, according to Smyth and other experts.

Each automaker has a different implementation of its entertainment platform, we’ve reported, and at least one, Ford, is considering pulling back on the changes and returning knobs to the radio due to consumer complaints. All of this change is occurring as Apple, too, eyes the connected car and radio needs to maintain a laser focus on in-car listening, Smyth feels.

Media use has multiplied; while there is fragmentation, traditional media brands have not disappeared, but rather adjusted, according to Smyth. “What has disappeared is outdated or insufficient delivery technology. Online audio may, in some future time, displace broadcast AM/FM, but there are still enormous technical and acceptance obstacles to overcome. In the meantime, radio is busy extending and transforming our brands for the new multichannel world.”

Smyth’s advice is for radio to make its brands available in as many ways and places as possible and focus on the product’s appeal. “We are a live, local friend with an emotional connection to our listeners, providing them with information, a laugh, some music and a chance to escape from the traffic jam on their way home. We have to continue to be their best friend who knows that they want more than a playlist from their favorite station.”