Radio as the New Social Medium

Did you catch SNL Saturday night?

Alec Baldwin’s record setting 17th guest host appearance had a curious bit of content in his monologue.

Baldwin harkened back to the early 90’s recalling some of his famous moments on SNL when current cast member Pete Davidson, who is only 23 years old, broke in.

Alec:  In 1998 I was Pete Schweddy on Delicious Dish selling my sweaddy balls on a radio on NPR.

Pete:  What’s a radio show?  Is that like a podcast?

If you are a Millennial, have Millennial children or teach them as I did at the University of Southern California, you’re thinking – what’s a radio show, indeed.

No matter how many times radio is warned, the radio industry continues to chug along like it is still the 90’s.

Outdated and irrelevant morning shows, the worst time of the day to lose listeners.

Music repetition that turns off Millennial audiences yet radio playlists and formats are relatively the same as they were decades earlier.


Songs that are too long for shorter attention spans, but radio plays them from beginning to end in high rotation every time even though the 18-34 year old Millennial listeners don’t even play their own music all the way through.


Air people that don’t connect with Millennials and the audience knows it.

Not enough authenticity.

Too much hype.

No fun for the gaming generation.  Many on-air people sound like they are about ready to get fired which, if you think about it, is not too far from the truth.

You remember that there is no more fun than doing a radio show – at least before consolidation.  Voice tracking never got its own hashtag.

Commercial breaks that are so impossible to listen to, it’s an invitation once or twice an hour to actively drive whatever listeners you’ve earned far away.

We used to lose them to other stations while we irritated listeners in the hopes of getting them back.  Now we leave them to their own devices literally.

It’s a big list of things a very stubborn radio industry protects to keep doing radio as they know it instead of the way younger audiences desire.

As I am preparing for my upcoming radio conference, it strikes me that I can pass along the latest trends and predictions about where we’re heading, but we need to have a discussion about making radio more relevant.

Morning shows that can’t be missed.

Can you really say a radio morning show can’t be missed?   Well, there are ways to make it more compelling in content, services, fun and by taking a new approach to who does mornings on your station.

Or, just keep doing the same thing with the same results.

My answer to making radio more relevant is not to compete with digital and social networks.

It’s not to do the same thing streaming music services do.

The way to make radio more relevant is to reinvent it as the conscience of a new generation.

Get into their heads with content you have not even begun to imagine but once you start, they’ll be no stopping.

Radio needs to be the audio YouTube.

The social media link that is missing.

As an aside, I gave a speech upon being inducted into the Television and Radio Hall of Fame in Philadelphia this past November.

My wife warned me not to make my acceptance speech about my favorite topic – me.

So I talked about radio as the original social medium and how it kept evolving until digital social media made radio do stupid things.

For what it is worth, the college students and sons and daughters in the audience made it a point to come up to me afterwards and reaffirm my assessment of radio as a social medium.

Listen to them. 

Only radio two execs out of 400 people in the audience acknowledged the potential power of radio’s position as I imagined it.  Without embarrassing them, I hope, they were Jim Loftus and Jerry Lee – two of the best because they are always ahead of the radio industry trying to keep pace with audiences.

Radio as a social medium.

We should talk and let’s have this discussion at the Radio Solutions Lab in six weeks.

Radio as a social medium not an imitator of digital social media is so powerful, so exciting and so doable, your trip to Philly to learn more will unlock your ideas and show you the only real future for the radio industry.

Wednesday, April 5 – Philadelphia

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