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Radio: My iPhone was Right, and Your Traffic Report was Wrong

This true story comes courtesy of a well-known radio industry opinion leader, and it will chill the heart of those of you in the radio information business:

Yesterday I was on a freeway, en route to a meeting when a traffic report came on the radio to warn me of major congestion a couple of miles from my location. 

Almost instinctively, I reached for my iphone and simultaneously punched the radio button to switch to the news/talk station with the image of most frequent and updated traffic reports. 

As luck would have it, traffic was just starting on the talk station, where they led with the same information – a major backup directly in the path of my route. The map on my iphone, however, indicated all green lanes ahead, indicating full speed. 

I was approaching the last chance to exit and take an alternate route. What to do? 

Deciding to risk the traffic jam and being late to my meeting, I proceeded…

…and found no traffic delays.  Not even a little slowing, and no evidence of this on the radio. 

With information at our fingertips, there is no tolerance for running inaccurate or slow anything on the air. Trust is destroyed, credibility compromised and one more nail goes into the coffin of our industry. 

If the service information on your show isn’t useful, timely, updated and accurate, don’t offer it. Do it right, or don’t do it at all. Use that time to entertain in more meaningful ways.

This is a scene that is and will continue to be repeated countless times in the laboratory called the "real world."  That viral melting pot where what works and what doesn't, what's valuable and what isn't, what's true and what's false, will spread like a digital tidal wave to every corner of your market.

And when it does, listeners will quickly learn that their trusty iPhone is a better barometer of the truth than what they hear over your air, assuming they're willing to wait to hear it.

So decide on what business you're in.

The business of information – the right information, correct, and when and where and how consumers (not simply listeners) want it.

Or the business of "radio," whatever that means:  Information that may be right, whenever we – the station – feel like sharing it with you.

Or, take this advice:  If you can't predict the heat, get out of the kitchen.

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