2Oceansvibe Doesn’t Like To Be Told…

Earlier last week, it was brought to my attention that 2oceansvibe had used a comment I left on their website as the basis of an editorial they wrote about the radio industry. While I have no issue with this, I do have an issue with some of the content in my comment possibly being misleading in the context of the article.

So, here is my response to the article.

Firstly, the comment I made in the context of the original article was a criticism of the radio industry in general and not Primedia Broadcasting alone. To represent that comment as anything else such is misleading given the context of the article in question.

Secondly, I was employed by Primedia Broadcasting and not Kfm as the article may lead some to believe. Further, in my original comment on the original article, I had not identified myself as a Primedia Broadcasting employee (ex or otherwise), nor had I mentioned Primedia Broadcasting in any way. Instead, I chose to comment in my private capacity. For the record, I resigned from Primedia around 5 years ago. So the headline is patently sensationalist. Moreover, the comment is based on my own opinion and should not be attributed to any of my colleagues from Primedia Broadcasting.

Finally, and most importantly, while 2oceansvibe may use the comment to strengthen their argument for digital radio vs traditional radio, my comment in no way should be viewed as an endorsement in favour of 2oceansvibe or any of its subsidiary or associated brands or activities. In my opinion, there’s very little in terms of content to separate the 2oceansvibe from its terrestrial counterparts.

Nonetheless, I stand by my comment as a criticism of the industry and still believe digital radio is the future of the medium.

On a personal note, while I can respect the editorial privilege that Seth enjoys on his site, I find it rather disappointing that he chose to delete my comment instead of responding to it directly on his site or to me via email. Doing so is disingenuos and can only be viewed as a self-serving act of someone who doesn’t really want to engage in any meaningful debate around the topic. 

UPDATE: Almost immediately after posting this piece, Seth contacted me (see below) to let me know the comment had reappeared. Something about cache issues  – although I was contacted via Twitter and was told it had something to do with manually approving comments. Regardless, I will take him at his word regarding that and retract the final statements of this post.

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Dead Air…

Radio-killer?

I’ve been saying it for the longest time now.

Radio needs to work harder and smarter. Cut the amount of mindless shit being spewed out by know-nothing DJs, cut the amount of useless shit being advertised and add more relevant content – especially from the DJs (TIP: if you’re only going to speak about yourself or read another bloody “funny email”, shut up and play another song).

In January of last year, I blogged about the programming manager of a well-known local commercial radio station who told me “Digital radio is dead. It’s not a threat.“ And this at a time when the FCC was mooting the Whitespace frequency for digital-radio roll out.

Well, buddy, have I got news for you…

Aha Mobile brings you Aha Radio, a free mobile application that transfers a broad range of web-based information into a customisable radio experience.

Yup.

In English that means you can listen to real-time traffic reports, Twitter and Facebook updates, plus 50 channels of content-podcasts with stuff like restaurant reviews, and news from NPR and Fox.

In addition, there will be “community-stations“, where you’ll be able to communicate with other usersif you want.

And that’s the big thing: “if you want“. You’ll only get the content you want. So you decide which Twitter streams, Facebook updates, news reports, etc you want to listen to.

What about music? Well, rollout is currently through the iPhone, so you’ll have the music you want to listen to, but there is also discussion about linking to mobile music providers. In addition, the revenue model is based around 10 second ad flashes (which I’m guessing will ultimately be customised) and premium content and services subscriptions (think GPS direction services).

It’s the world beyond radio…and it’s getting closer…

What’s that noise?

Celine Dion? Again? Goshdurn' it!!

Celine Dion? Again? Goshdurn' it!!

 

Radio is one of those media that is currently staring down the barrel of the same gun as the print and recording industries. It’s a medium that hasn’t really moved with the times, choosing to rely on the same business model of relying on advertisers to fund its way. And essentially that’s what radio is: an advertising platform.

And advertising on radio is not as strong as it used to be. Maybe not here right now, but it’s losing ground overseas and soon it will be the same here. Sure, radio stations take advantage of the fact that the majority of this country’s employed work in factories where they have no choice but to listen to the radio for entertainment. But with the popularity of iPods and cheap MP3 players on the rise, how long will this last? So why is a medium that used to be so powerful weakening so quickly?

Primarily, it’s because the old adage of repeating the message is dying. It’s not so much that repetition makes the message stick, it’s the hope that by repeating the message radio will hit at least one person who’s interested.

In fact, with the shift to social-marketing and the targeted message, the impact of consistent repetition is having a negative effect. People are getting tired of being yelled at. And be honest: how many ad-breaks do you listen to? How many of those ads are targeted at your needs? Moreover, there’s the sincerity factor. When your favourite hard-core breakfast show DJ reads out a commercial extolling the benefits of tampons or nappies or home insurance, do you believe him? Do you really believe he’s endorsing those products? That he uses those products?

In the global social-media ecosystem, radio is a parasite. It sucks value out of the audience and never pays it back. Radio doesn’t care about you as a listener. It’s like a salesman standing on the corner of a street yelling a laundry-list of brands and offers at passers-by hoping that someone will respond. The only advantage you offer radio is leverage to charge more for its advertising space. More ears, you see. But then, the returns aren’t measurable and can’t be – even during competitions.

A quick note on radio competitions and promotions. If you’re an advertiser who’s planning on sponsoring one of those, ask yourself this one question: is the increase in interaction with the radio station translating into an increase in your bottom line? Remember: radio stations are always the heroes. They love the interaction but hate to share the spotlight.

And radio’s trump-card of real-time interaction is no longer. TV is even more interactive than radio. You can text-message a radio and they may read out your message. On TV, digital tickers display your message automatically.

Radio is strange because it positions itself as a direct-response medium but the most in can do is promise you branding and partial awareness. And it can’t even guarantee that because you don’t listen to ad-breaks. In fact, how intensely do you listen to the music selection? How often do you change the dial when a song you’ve heard before or that you don’t like comes on? Now imagine listening only to the type of music you enjoy…with no ad-breaks, or at the very least ad-breaks that are targeted to the types of things you’re interested in. You’re looking at the lastfm scenario where radio engages you and builds its playlist around you, suggesting types of music you may enjoy – possibly from musicians you’ve never heard of. A fair and positive value exchange model and it’s gaining ground.

The future of radio? Who knows? One thing is for sure: if radio doesn’t move into a realm of sincere engagement with its audience, it will eventually be hoisted on its own petard, victim of its own short-sighted planning.

A little something extra: at the time of writing the FCC was mooting the potential of the Whitespace spectrum in the USA. What this means is that every car sold will have access to an infinite number of radio stations. Not 1000’s, not millions but a potential infinite number of radio stations. Just sayin’, is all…