One of them is not radio’s fault, really.
The other absolutely IS radio’s doing.
Consolidation ruined the business.
When I first said this as publisher of Inside Radio in 1996, I got more crap from people who were loving the potential of gobbling up competitors, running an entire market and dominating ad rates.
Did they get fooled.
But all of that eventually faded when they saw that the venture capital that put these monopolies together started firing them or making them take on more jobs than any human could do.
And it wasn’t just once – it kept happening and still does today.
Just yesterday, I got a tip on Entercom and how they are cutting CBS expenses even now without FCC approval to merge. Just a small detail when CBS execs understand a wink and a nod.
The other problem that is directly on radio is a blatant disregard for an entire generation of listeners and what a lousy time to assume that all teens growing up would be radio listeners.
So we lost Millennials and judging from my mail and my contacts in this business, the word Millennial is not one radio people even like to say even though they constitute the 18-34 year old demographic.
You might say Napster killed music, but it didn’t.
Apple killed music when Steve Jobs talked the labels obsessed with music piracy into letting him sell tunes for 99 cents.
Let the cherry picking begin.
You might say digital devices killed radio but radio killed radio by refusing to change, ignoring vastly different needs of an 86 million generation – something it continues to do right up to this moment.
So venture capital continues to play monopoly with a handful of groups.
Only the strong will survive unless …
Unless, the local, independent radio operators re-engage this Millennial audience because without them there is no growth ahead for radio.
- We will need to focus on making radio the next social medium because radio personalities used to have a direct pipeline into the heads of listeners and it can be that way again when it comes to music, all things local and advocacy. Social media is not Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or SnapChat. It’s radio.
- We will need to stop stealing from advertisers. Okay, get mad at me if you want but it’s true. Radio consolidators are so desperate that they have accepted a new standard – shorter spots, cheaper prices. Now that’s a loser if I ever heard it. Instead radio needs to help its best advertisers get palpable results. Test copy, produce better commercials, meet joint goals. Not just run one cheap ad after another. That’s not a business, it’s a fire sale. So when I tell you Jerry Lee knows more about making advertiser ad campaigns wildly successful at higher prices, I’m not kidding. That’s why I am having him lay it all out at my conference in two weeks – the one you need to attend if you care about not going down with venture capital backed companies on the verge of bankruptcy. You think bankruptcy doesn’t hurt you?
- Once and for all, get over digital. Do radio. Great radio. Give listeners what they want and advertisers something they can’t get from a programmatic buy at low, low prices. And when you want to do digital right, make it short form video, the fastest path to a never-ending money stream. Get the right topics, the right people, the right angle and the right monetization – and we’re going to have a conversation about this.
To make miraculous things happen for the rest of this year, become expert at the things that matter most to listeners and advertisers by taking a seat at the table at my radio conference in less than two weeks.