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I’m Going to Stage a Secret Radio Meeting

And like that meeting, the purpose of mine is to plot radio’s digital future.

Because, as we all know, the future of any industry is best mapped out by its leading executives, locked together in a private room with nary a consumer in sight.  Consumers will do what they’re told, after all.  The control is all ours! This is how General Motors did it for years!

I will make sure only to invite folks who see eye-to-eye with me on the main issues of the day, as I see them.  Troublemakers need not apply.

Also not welcome at my secret meeting:  Arbitron and Triton – it’s just measurement, after all.  And Clear Channel and Cumulus – because this isn’t about their digital future, and hopefully every consumer and advertiser knows the difference.  Also absent from my meeting: Pandora and Slacker and Apple and Google and Spotify and Amazon because they will never create ad-supported platforms that attempt to steal our listeners and advertisers. Besides, with a room that big we’d need to hire an A/V team and I can’t possibly expense that.

We shall also map a digital future without any representatives from companies which are digital first and radio perhaps not at all.  They are not at this conference, after all.  They go to conferences with words like “digital” in the name.

And together we shall act as a consortium, not unlike the one that powered HD radio to its current success.

Nowadays, the best laid plans are those established from the top-down and spun into ad messaging gold from Don Draper and our team at Sterling Cooper. Get me Draper on the phone now!  Tell him we’re having Bob Struble for lunch – no, not literally!

Oh I don’t know.  Maybe I’m mistaken with this approach.

Maybe I should instead invite a slew of consumers – consumers with choices and control.  How are they making decisions differently and how will new choices and mobile devices affect those decisions?  Maybe I should also invite some agencies who spend a bunch of money in digital – how are they making decisions today?  Maybe I should invite somebody who doesn’t live in the U.S. – do you know anybody?

Maybe I should look ahead to what our brands can be in an era of unlimited choice and – even more scary – unlimited access and convenience for that choice.  Maybe I should open my meeting to broadcasters and their friends with exciting ideas, not simply those with executive titles.  Maybe it’s not just about picking partners and mapping out static plans in a fast-changing media world.  Maybe it’s about rethinking business models and brand extensions. Maybe this is more than a one-day meeting and an informal consortium. Maybe this is a discussion – an ongoing one – where all broadcasters, their clients, their friends, and their fans are invited.  Maybe we’re all in this together.  Even if our invite got lost in the mail.

Maybe I should question what radio is and what it means to an audience participating in fraying its edges.  Maybe this is the way we should start the conversation – focusing on the consumers and our clients first.  How do we connect them in the presence of our brands in the markets we know best?

Maybe this is all so complicated that it gives me a headache.

Hopefully news of my secret meeting won’t leak out, or the headache will be much bigger.

So many of the people working in and around radio – including many of my friends who will attend this meeting – are smart and creative folks who care deeply about their brands and the future of the medium.  Wouldn’t it be great if their efforts were invested wisely?

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