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Thinking about Radio’s Future

This week I was honored to participate in an event which was an amazing gathering of thoughtful people focused on one question: What change is coming around the corner and how can we understand, anticipate, and profit from that change?  What, specifically, do we need to understand in the next two years to “get” where things are headed?

In attendance at this private event were venture capitalists, technologists, entrepreneurs, and consultants.  The author of a book about the ad industry, representatives from some major agencies, a former high level Sony executive, folks who had sold their company to Google, a former Harvard Business School professor, and many others who work day-to-day in different corners of the business world at or near its cutting edge.  Other than one former broadcaster who was now long out of the business, the only person actively engaged in the world of radio there was me.

I can’t share the details of our day-long conversation (and those details are fascinating), but being in this mix for a day, being in this symphony of smart people thinking big and important thoughts about the near term future of business has left me with a feeling that this is exactly the kind of event the broadcasting community needs yet exactly the kind of event it is unlikely to stage.

The future of radio will be determined less by a room full of broadcasters and more by the world in which those broadcasters operate and the opportunities those broadcasters explore in that world.

What happens at an industry level is fine, of course, but strategy – competitive strategy – is determined within the four walls of each broadcasting company. And it is within those walls that these conversations really should be taking place.  And they should be taking place with outsiders, people who understand not where radio is moving but where the world around radio is moving.

Because that world – that context – will define the space in which radio has room to grow.

I’ll leave you with this one tidbit:  One of the great failings of many companies is that they don’t understand who and what they are in the presence of a world which changes around them.  Evidence of transformational insights here are all around us.  How else to explain how a DVD-by-mail company becomes a streaming video company or how a much loved but also-ran computer company becomes a media behemoth?

Who you think you are matters – a lot.  It matters to your future and all those who plan to work in it and consume the fruits of it.

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