GM Investing in Autonomous Cars, Fewer Drivers

Bill Burton has to be turning over in his grave.

The dedicated radio sales pro who died in 2014 was well known for saying “the automobile is a radio with four wheels” and I suspect he would not like recent developments.

When an automaker like General Motors invests a half billion in Uber competitor Lyft to form an on-demand network of self-driving cars, you know the radio industry has more trouble than it is letting on.

GM is betting on fewer individual buyers.

You’ll be hearing the term “autonomous” cars with no drivers a lot.

You may, like me, see it right in your own family if you have a Millennial who has no interest in driving.

I couldn’t wait to be old enough to drive but times have changed.

Millennials are changing the world and we would be wise to listen, learn and not judge.

But, with fewer drivers and cars driving themselves why is the radio industry getting all hot and bothered about the prospects of a digital dashboard.

It’s the phone, not the dashboard.

It’s Wi-Fi and mobile access, not free radio.

And it’s better content delivered in ways we have never been able to conjure up.

And if you think you are leaving this earth without seeing cars drive themselves, you must be planning on leaving tomorrow because the next day it will be here.

Radio keeps talking about the same old issues that don’t matter.


95 million Millennials could give a damn about radio (unlike the baby boomers who run this business and think the same rules apply).

And podcasting is a non-starter so don’t force me to break your bubble on that.

And many Millennials plain don’t want to drive.

And – I’m generalizing now – they want to live in cities where they can walk and be part of a community.

The free ride is over for radio.

We don’t get a captive audience every time the ignition goes on.

In fact, we don’t get an audience at all.

Watch an Uber driver text and drive and only put a radio on if they want it on the background – ah, the disadvantages of the People Meter.

And with cars that have no drivers – Tesla, Uber and Google are working on it and Apple is rumored to be – radio has no automatic advantage.

There is nothing compelling about radio and we can thank those greedy bastards who squeezed the local out of radio while they were squeezing the profits out for their bottom lines.

Think about it.

  • Why aren’t we finding a new mission for “autonomous” listening? Instead, it’s the same old crap over and over for drivers who are inclining to do other things when they are behind the wheel.
  • Why aren’t we finding some real addictive content so that what used to be the terrestrial radio industry can become the mobile autonomous content business.  
  • Music is a disaster (oh my God, I’m sounding like Donald Trump with “disaster”) for music radio. It’s just a short playlist and the same thing Millennials have moved on from. Radio doesn’t need a disruption. It needs destruction of formats that are not going to win for them.
  • We should be spending time talking about how to get distracted audiences to focus on the potential of what we have to offer.  We no longer have the ride to work and home to entertain or inform.

Binge content – yes, we must do that and yet ask a radio exec how to do it and they have no idea that bingeing also applies to radio – or it should.

Stop the abuse of social media – hell, teens redefine social media on an ongoing basis on the fly. Did you know that Instagram is for the really good stuff?

Did you know how sensitive young people are to whether their social media efforts are liked and how quickly they remove them?

If the answer is yes, then you’ll appreciate that radio is misusing social media by trying to make it a promotional tool.

Bad move.

Let’s talk more about all this and the other topics that can bring about positive change at my upcoming new radio conference.

Can we do all of this?

Steve Jobs was a baby boomer who knew what Millennials wanted even before they knew so, yes.

I think you’ll agree, the following will be a good use of our time together:

Deliver What Millennial Audiences Want by Being Relentlessly Authentic

Music's Now a Commodity Like Ketchup -- What to Do

On Contesting:  Don't Offer Cash, Offer Dreams

Blowing Up Your Station and Building a Content Model

The Big Audience Issue of 2016 – Gender Neutrality

Kill the 8-Minute Stop Set Before it Kills You – Alternatives 

Radio's Future:  Target Younger, Not Older (Older Adopts Anyway, Later)

Talk to Millennial Audiences the Way You Tweet

We're Doing it All Backwards Programming Stations Instead of Targeting Audiences 

Radio's Real Competitor is Not Another Station or Internet Service, it's User Generated Content

On TSL: Short Attention Spans Are Your Friend -- Kill Long Music Sweeps, Don't Play Songs All the Way Through, Program More Interruptions to Feed A.D.D.

The Best Way to Raise Rates is to Create Premium Content

Over 100 Million Listeners Are Available But Radio Programs to 70 Million “Unavailables”

A Sweeper is a Self-Inflicted Wound to Your Audience -- What's Better

Divorce Your Digital Do Radio Separately Then Restart as Short-Form Video 

If Stations Are Making Most of Their Money From Spot Sales Then They Are Missing 7 Revenue-Ready Innovations

Consider New Forms of Revenue Such as Subscriptions and Product Placement

Radio Must Create Binge Content Like Netflix -- Audiences Demand It

Someday Radio May Not Exist, Plan For the Future

How Certain Music and Spoken Word Formats Can Get Their Fair Credit From Nielsen
Researcher Richard Harker and Premiere Talk Show Host Sean Hannity join Jerry live and in-person. Harker reveals the huge audience loss Hannity’s show took in a major market research project he conducted when Nielsen PPM was compared to Voltair. Which other formats are punished by existing PPM technology? Is Nielsen’s Voltair alternative the answer – and is everything good again? Attendees will join the discussion.

Limited Number of Seats Available.

Millennial Radio Makeover
Conversation with former Cox and CBS programmer Dan Mason offering up a slew of ideas for making radio stations a lot more appealing to the critical 18-34 year old Millennial demographic.

Reserve a seat here.

Inquire about group discounts here.