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On “Radio 2020”

You heard it announced at NAB, it’s the “cooperative effort between the NAB, Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) and HD Digital Radio Alliance.” It aims to “reposition radio for a long and successful future.”

It’s “Radio 2020”, which seems to be a rehash of research conclusions that I (and probably others) published over a year ago.

Perhaps it’s just a coincidence that 2020 is the year by which Internet revenues are expected to match radio’s advertising revenues in 2006. Or perhaps this is an indication of perfect 20/20 vision. But either way, it’s conveniently beyond the working life of virtually everyone fronting the effort.

What can we make of this pledge from NAB head David Rehr: “We must remind the public why they value radio to reignite their passion for it.”

Just a moment.

Radio has strengths, to be sure. I have long focused on those. But passions are ignited by the fresh, the novel, the exciting, the “purple.” Not by the tried and true and familiar, no matter how much “reminding” you do.

By “reminding the public” of radio’s merits we are simply engaging in a calculated public relations campaign to a public which has long since decided how to relate to us.

We are not in the driver’s seat. The public is.

We cannot convince or remind them of anything. We can prove. We can do. We can innovate. We can delight. We can surprise. We can change. We can be bold. We can invest. We can try.

We can put our actions where our mouths are and stop trying to manipulate our audiences into thinking the way we wish they did.

We can stop talking to ourselves and start listening to the audience.

They are voting with their ears.

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