So what does radio need to do to meet the challenges before us?
One of the mistakes I think we too often make in radio is to begin with where we are now and imagine a future where we do stuff at the edges which fixes the problem.
For example, the world is moving to the Internet? Stream! Podcasting is picking up steam? Podcast! Etc.
These responses aren’t wrong, of course, but we have to be aware of the larger shift that’s going on here and what it means for us.
Fundamentally, radio once owned the wireless air.
You could not leave a wire behind and still be connected to anything vital or timely or live or urgent.
From its origin, radio has had the unique ability to foster community and interaction, discovery and delight, to aggregate interests and audiences, to entertain and inform – anywhere and everywhere.
But today, there’s a crack in the dam and the water is beginning to rush through.
Because today – and more so tomorrow – the Internet will offer its own anytime, anywhere opportunity for interaction and community, discovery and delight, aggregation and collaboration, information and entertainment.
Without wires. With pictures. And with a form of direct collaboration and audience creation well beyond anything that radio itself ever allowed.
Back in the day, “media” was any one of the one-to-many technologies which produced and distributed content to audiences.
But today, “media r us.” Media are people. People aggregating and collaborating and interacting and discovering and discussing – wherever they want, wherever they can. Media are no longer radio and TV and print.
When the audience, not the broadcast-industrial complex, is the media, then where does radio fit in? What is our role in this new math?
It is not simply to add the Internet to our solutions and call it a day.
It is to fundamentally reconsider the world from the perspective of the consumer, the listener – not from the perspective of the broadcaster.
In other words, it’s not about what you want, it’s about what they want. And it’s about what you have that uniquely fits into what they want.
I have yet to see any major radio organization consider the world from this perspective. But that’s going to have to change.