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The threats and opportunities from radio on cell phones

From (originally from FMQB)…the comments of John Silliman Dodge, echoing what I (and others) have been saying for a long time:

Let’s consider three mega-trends. First, the phenomenon of content on demand began with the Internet. Before 1995, most people were happy to consume whatever radio served up… But now music is a commodity, available from a rapidly growing number of sources. Consumers are experiencing ‘overchoice,’ and the numbers tell us they like this feeling of control… Power is shifting from program supplier to program consumer, from us to them. The second trend is the fractionalization of time… Every new gadget or trend that comes along…Motorola iRadio potentially subtracts time spent listening from radio… Never underestimate the American people’s love of convenience, which is trend number three… Since we are on the fast track toward becoming a ‘one person one cell phone’ nation, this convenient little gadget is the next big gateway into our commercial lives.

What Mr. Dodge is leaving out is the issue of simplicity. Technology is, more often than not, complicated. Radio couldn’t be easier. He’s also leaving out the issue of price. It is unlikely that radio by cell phone will be free. Finally, he’s leaving out the notion that some of the best radio is not a commodity at all. CBS’s FREE FM is building a non-commodity platform that, in time, will make its ratings presence known.

This is not to diminish the threat from new technologies. Threats they most certainly are. But opportunities they also are – for the broadcasters with the guts and the content to exploit them.

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