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Is Radio a Digital Laggard?

That’s what Inside Radio reports, based on a new Borrell Associates study:

In what may best be described as a digital wake up call, Borrell Associates says the radio industry is “barely treading water” in the local digital space and is poised to see its share shrink — not grow — unless there’s a rethink in the coming years. “Radio stations continued to deliver lackluster performance in internet sales,”  Borrell Associates president Gordon Borrell. “Outside of local cable companies and magazines, radio performed the worst among all legacy media companies,” Borrell says.

But here’s what’s lost in this new study….

When it comes to digital, there is no such thing as the “radio industry.”

Digital levels the playing field across all media by providing the same powerful cross-channel capabilities.  And when the resources are equalized – when your prowess is no longer due solely to the scarcity of your Federally licensed broadcast frequency – when you have to compete toe-to-toe with everything else that is now called “media,” then what differentiates one player from another is not what industry they’re in, it’s what ideas they project to consumers and clients alike, and how well they project those ideas.

“Ideas” could be content, they could be platform offerings, they could be sales strategies, they could be your most talented managers, etc.  “Ideas” are the raw materials of supply and demand, of action and consequence.

So my point is this: There is no reason to expect that “radio” as an industry will “get it.”  But there is every reason to expect that certain players within that industry will “get it.”  Certain groups will evolve from “radio” to “media” as their digital transformation takes hold.  And in the long run they will hardly be recognizable as “radio.”

As I have long said, in the future there will be no “radio industry” but there will be many radio industries.

And what differentiates those players from the rest will be these five factors:

1.  A culture that invites new ideas and embraces the kind of people in tune with fast-changing times

2.  Superior distinctive content

3.  A strategy that recognizes the new definition of media in a digital age

4. A leader who communicates and invests in the digital future

5.  Champions on staff who see the future as it is, not as it used to be, and look beyond the easy agency dollars and towards new revenue streams and new business models, powered in many cases by digital

So we should not be surprised that “radio” is a digital laggard.

We should only be surprised if every “broadcaster” in every market is one, too.

Unhinge your future from “radio’s” and the world is your oyster.

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