Radio and the Car Dashboard: Is It Time to Do a Deal?

As a lifer in the radio industry, I’m constantly thinking about where the medium is headed.  One of the biggest challenges the industry will have to face in the coming months and years is the new technology that has begun to appear in new cars.  Unless things change, things don’t look good.  Radio consultant Mark Ramsey is as concerned as I am.

This past week I had a conversation with someone knowledgeable in the auto technology space:“The dash is getting crowded and complicated,” she argued, “and the harder to find a radio station is the less apt folks will be to listen to it.”

“But if the content is compelling enough, they will seek it out,” I replied.

“Ease of use trumps compelling content,” she argued back. “It has to be easy to find and use first, and some of these new dashboards don’t even have an FM/AM button.”

Now this is abjectly true: You can’t listen to what you can’t find.

But what are the consequences of that truth? What can we actually do about it?

You see, historically, radio was not only a distribution channel, it essentially was THE EXCLUSIVE live entertainment platform built into every car. It not only owned the market, it WAS the market. The radio was a “thing” on the dashboard and every station was not only easy to find but it was the same on every device (i.e., “radio”) because it was synched in the cloud (i.e., broadcast from a tower).

If radio is becoming harder to find on the dashboard that’s because the “exclusive live entertainment platform” built into every car is no longer a radio, but an Internet-connected digital entertainment hub where the shelf space belongs to the platform maker or the automaker.

Read more here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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