Published on November 5th, 2018 | by Alan Cross2
Nope, radio is still not dead. If you still think so, read this.
There are certain segments of the public that believe that radio is dead. Granted that the industry may be in a period of transition thanks to rapidly changing technology and consumer demands, but that doesn’t mean it’s dead.
These three articles address the situation:
1. The secret to achieve a growing radio industry could be as simple as this
Go to a radio conference in the US or Canada, and there won’t be very many smiling faces. There’s a general feeling in the US and Canada that radio is managing decline. But in other countries, radio is behaving differently.
The UK commercial industry has grown, over the past year, by 5.2%. It’s now a US $887m market.
Australian commercial radio has grown too — over the past year, metro stations growing 3.8% to a US $573m market (and there’s more from the regions, too).
Commercial radio in Finland is growing, too. Their figures are harder to decipher, but July grew by 6.6% over June; and June grew by 17% over May. The market’s comparatively small at about US $93m — but it’s doing better than the UK if you bear in mind Finland’s small population.
These aren’t the stories you hear from the US and Canada; and I’m often asked why.
It’s not an easy answer.
2. Thoughts on the post-“Radio is Dead” era
Paul, Jennifer, and I did a fun podcast at my house the other day in which we discussed what I have coined the post-“Radio is Dead” era. Basically the wags, wonks, and wise guys of the Internet have given up declaring that radio is deceased, but nobody quite knows what to think about it now. In the immortal words of the famously and unexpectedly defeated Thomas Dewey in the presidential election of 1948, “If I am alive, what am I doing here? And if I’m dead, why do I have to go to the bathroom?”
So here goes: my random thoughts on our post-postmortum radio landscape.
Thought Number One: Radio can no longer be defined by any single transmission medium.
Once upon a time when we thought about radio we associated it with AM/FM. But in retrospect, that 20th-century way of doing and understanding radio may have been anomalous. As I argued in my book Radio 2.0: Uploading the First Broadcast Medium, through the centuries we have read print in many different forms: books, newspaper articles, scrolls, teletype, LED freeway signs, just to cite a few examples. Why did we think that we would always listen to broadcast sound via AM/FM and no other format? In our time, radio is no longer defined by the technology that transmits it. Which takes us into . . .
Thought Number Two: Radio is better understood as an idea instead of a technology.
3. Radio survived the tape, CD, and iPod. In the age of Spotify, it’s more popular than ever.
Think of any teen movie out of the 1980s or 1990s, and there’s a fair chance you can recall a scene of characters lounging in a car, singing along to the blare of a dashboard radio. If not driving, they’re listening to radio while sitting around a breakfast table, or doing homework, or gathering at friends’ parties, those trusty AM/FM waves forever crooning on in the background.
Music listening these days looks different. People don’t need a DJ spinning them new tracks that they’ll rush off to buy at a record shop; they pick their own songs on digital streaming services like Spotify. According to everyone from Jay-Z to entire national governments, the reign of radio is over.
Yet why the gloom? Radio is actually more alive than ever.