The Wolf at Radio’s Door

Interesting piece from Bridge Ratings head Dave Van Dyke. He argues that Wireless Internet Radio, not Satellite Radio, will be a bigger threat to Radio. And I think he’s absolutely right.

One day, every iPod will be a streaming device, not simply a downloading one. And nobody needs your abstraction of their favorite songs when they can stream their exact favorite and utterly customized mix.

Dave’s answer is that Radio “needs to remain focused on what it does and has always done. Be local and live and relate to its community.”

Here I think he’s wrong.

That notion that Radio’s future advantages simply mirror its past ones is based on a worldview that says Radio is in the Radio business. I contend that we’re in the Entertainment business (or, for Information stations, the Information business).

“Local” has little bearing on what’s entertaining. A custom music mix trumps a local one. A top-notch national personality can trump a local one – if Radio ever gets its act together and develops one.

Furthermore technology is breeding the taste for “local” out of our audience. Ask your teenager whether they prefer local Radio or custom streaming. Ask them if they’d rather hear the local morning show or (if only he were on the Radio) David Letterman or Jon Stewart. Better will always beat around-the-corner.

If this strikes you as inconsistent with your experience that’s because experience is, by definition, based on the past.

It’s about time we look to the future. And it’s about time our leaders do, too.

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