28 Trends Impacting Radio

  1. Millennials want discovery in every way but radio gives them limited content with the burden of too many commercials.
  2. Gender neutrality is emerging as a major force among the Pluralistic generation – 15 and under, soon entering the 18-34 demographic. Radio must reconfigure the way it talks to audiences or risk being further irrelevant.
  3. Traffic and transit means nothing to an audience that relies on their smartphones for information, but there are some potent replacements for traffic and transit that these listeners are not likely to get on mobile apps.
  4. Commercials, the revenue source for radio, are losing their audience. To prevent advertisers from sensing this and turning elsewhere, a new form of advertising can emerge from local stations. And it has nothing to do with traditional spots.
  5. The one thing – and largely the only thing – that can re-stimulate interest in radio among the smartphone generation is larger than life personalities – but they must be authentic. Ironically, personalities are being cut to save money eliminating its #1 advantage with young demos.
  6. Short attention spans require stations to play only portions of songs – something they and record labels continue to resist, but when these digital listeners enjoy their own music, they never listen to any song all the way through.
  7. Nothing sounds more like hype than the average commercial radio station and yet 95 million Millennials only respond to authenticity. I like to listen to an hour of a station’s format and red flag all the non-authentic blown opportunities and replace them with something more real.
  8. Never run a sweeper again – it’s a lazy, cheap way to do what a live personality should be saying and doing.
  9. Streaming music services are not the future of the music business nor do they pose a great threat to radio. Most streaming services are free as is radio so radio can beat this prolific group of audience time sharers by doing the one thing streamers can’t and won’t do – local curation.
  10. Use Nielsen if you want, but never use it to make programming decisions.  Program to win fans not quarter hours and there are many missed opportunities you can take advantage of.
  11. Talk is dead if it’s political (18-34 year old Millennials are civic not political) but if it is reimagined for very, very short attention spans with youthful personalities and only subjects younger audiences embrace, it can be reborn.
  12. Radio news is dead. Twitter is the news source that strikes like lightning so perhaps it would be better to reimagine all-news in the image of Twitter.
  13. Branding stations is now counterproductive. It is better to create a space that listeners can describe in their own way not the way station marketers imagine it.
  14. Selling radio ads is passé. Selling access to your listeners – that’s the future and not one radio station knows how to do this without reverting back to spot sales.
  15. Digital is a waste of time and brings very little new revenue into a radio station.  Shut it down because digital is radio’s competitor.  Compete with digital head to head if you like (i.e., launch a video platform separate and apart from your station) but what’s on the radio should only be available only on the radio.
  16. Podcasting hurts radio – it is a needed alterative to old-white-man political talk that is aging out. But make no mistake about it, podcasting diverts listening that could go to radio.  Instead, put podcasts on the radio, as short as a few minutes, and in longer form, too – there is a plan.
  17. Social media is not a promotional tool. Use it that way and lose. It’s there to give away useful information and entertainment to those fortunate enough to join your social network. 100% of radio’s broadcast stations use social media as a promotional tool.
  18. The digital dashboard is the fantasy of equipment manufacturers, auto companies and media consultants who actually think the space where radio used to reside can be replaced by access to an infinite number of mobile and web apps.  Concentrate on winning fans who are addicted to what you do and in this world, they’ll access you without a fancy digital interface.
  19. Music is now like a condiment such as ketchup, mustard or relish. It is no longer the main meal. Music exists to be consumed on digital devices or through the cloud and deserves major brainstorming by terrestrial radio to avoid being an add-on.
  20. Beware of the hype about vinyl – the great majority of music consumers have chosen digital. Vinyl makes a great newspaper story but it isn’t a trend even though the sound is richer and more real.
  21. Adele’s ability to sell outdated technology in great numbers – CD albums – should be a great source of inspiration to terrestrial radio. Talent can supersede technology. Digital isn’t better than radio. Better radio is better than digital. Discuss.
  22. In an age of gaming and mobile video games, why are radio stations not playing games to win prizes on the air – not the call in and win ticket prizes.  Give away dreams and make winning them a game.
  23. Voice tracking never won a ratings race or attracted a single fan to radio. I want to compete with any radio station that does voice tracking. I’d hire affordable talent to kill the competition and form a minor league system for bringing talent to your station.
  24. Target younger first when you also want older. Steve Jobs designed his digital products for youthful changemakers and older consumers then adopted the new devices later.  Microsoft designed its iPod – called Zune, the Edsel of digital music devices – for older consumers and you saw how that went. Same is true of radio programming, aim younger to also attract older.
  25. The next great source of radio programming is user-generated content not station created programming.
  26. Think about the popularity of binging and create binge radio content. Can’t do it? Drake-Chenault did it decades ago with the 48-hour History of Rock and Roll. Now it’s time for other iterations.
  27. On-air jocks can be taught to talk like they tweet for smarter conversations.
  28. In a Buzzfeed era, radio stations should be numbering everything including the top hits.

These are some of the projects I help stations wrestle with in the age of great media change.

If I can be of help to you through weekly video brainstorming sessions, in-person workshops to develop talent, programming and management growth or as an advisor, shoot me a message here.

Here’s a very kind testimonial from a company I work with:

“As you are aware, Radio Disney recently announced a major business evolution resulting in a number of significant changes. This transition both directly and indirectly impacted our entire staff and set the perfect stage for our workshop. Your forward-thinking, honesty, candor and unique point of view was extremely beneficial in achieving our goals”

-- Phil Guerini, VP, Music Strategy Disney Channels Worldwide and GM, Radio Disney Networks

-- Ernest Martinez, Director On Air Programming