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Is the Radio “Industry” Dead?

Everybody wants to know what's next for radio, and the answer is…

More than one radio "industry."

There will be the folks who see the world through the lens of 1999.  These are the people who see nothing but Arbitron's 100-share world in all its tenuous splendor.  All good things will come in over-the-air buys to this crowd.  These are the traditionalists.  The folks who drive with a great view out the rear view mirror.

There will be the broadcasters who see digital as non-traditional revenue and are content (relatively speaking) to deliver two to six percent of their bottom line in digital dollars.  These are the dabblers, the "show me the moneys."  Maybe one day that percentage will rise to, say, 10%.  Wouldn't that be great?

Then there will be broadcasters who view digital trends as transformational opportunities.  These are the people who plan on growing their business by growing their digital business(es).  They will structure for this world (a big issue – don't kid yourself), plan for this world, budget for this world, and move to make this world real.  It will not land in their laps, they will have to work for it.  These are the innovators.  They will shake the definitions of "radio" as they leverage their strengths in an era when consumers and advertisers can be connected much more effectively and efficiently than ever before.

It will be absurd to call this one industry because the three groups will have little in common but that fraction of their revenue which continues to come from traditional sources and go to traditional spots.

They will not laugh at the same jokes (except for HD radio jokes), read the same books, or learn things at the same conferences.  They will not provide the same services or profit from the same product lines.

What I'm suggesting to you is that "radio" as one industry is no more.

The radio industry is dead.  Long live the radio "industries."

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