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Twitter-age A.D.D. and what it means for Radio


Many years ago, a broadcaster approached me with an idea that was, quite possibly, ahead of its time.

He had a Top 40 format, but unlike regular old Top 40 every song was edited to last no longer than 2 minutes or so. The pace of this format was incredible, as you might imagine, and it really wasn't obvious that the songs were being trimmed.  In fact, it sounded pretty good.

Fast-forward to 2009 and the age of Twitter, where 140 characters speak volumes.

What impact, if any, should our tweet-paced age have on radio, both over-the-air and in its digital forms?

There are a few things that spring to my mind (and these are not intended to be exhaustive):

1.  Immediacy

If you're forcing me to wait for the "8's" to get a weather forecast, you've lost your mind, and you will soon lose my listening.

While the clock figures prominently in radio, there is no clock online or in the mobile space.  The very existence of a clock implies waiting for a time.  But there is no waiting. There is only "now" and "not now."  And when I want something, I can get it now – if not from you then from whatever I substitute for you.

Implication:  Those services and benefits which can be provided immediately upon request will be so provided, whether by you or someone else.  Listeners will cease "waiting" for what they can get instantly through other means.  This has the potential to transform any News/Talk station that isn't already being used solely as a source for breezy, leisurely talk shows.

2.  Brevity

You post a podcast of your morning show and it's how long?  Are you kidding?  

The 140-character-world means you should have 140-character versions of your morning show.  That is, highlights.  Quite frankly, isn't the highlight the reason listeners would order up your show on-demand anyway?

And don't tell me "we should have both long-form and highlights" because right now we have only long-form in the vast majority of cases.

3.  Doing what We Do Best

By that I mean not doing what others do better.

Look for a world where news, weather, and traffic headlines all but disappear from radio.  Where the smart operators develop their digital platforms to satisfy every demand of information-fan listeners when, where, and how they want them.  Where the radio "leads" folks who want information to the various digital expressions of this information provided by the "broadcaster."  Look for broadcasters to recognize that it's their value they must monetize, not their airwaves.

Or not.  If not you then someone else.

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