Taking a Look at the Prospects for Radio in the Car

If you’ve driven any late-model car lately, you’ll know that the dashboard contains more than the once-standard AM/FM/CD player. Things are changing rapidly in this tech space–too rapidly for some and not rapidly enough for others.

So what role will radio play in the next car you buy? Current.org takes a look at what was discussed at the recent DASH conference in Detroit.

Radio industry executives gathered last week in Detroit to consider their medium’s future in connected cars, where tech giants such as Apple and Google are emerging as gatekeepers to contend with.

Staged by Jacobs Media and Radio Ink magazine, the third annual Dash Conference drew 225 attendees to a Detroit hotel Wednesday and Thursday. Early in the conference, attendees got a glimpse of a perilous future for terrestrial radio in the car, where auto manufacturers’ deal-making is shaping options available to listeners.

BMW is the latest carmaker to announce the inclusion of Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto systems in its cars, joining Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Toyota and many others. For radio stations, such deals mean increasing competition for listeners on the go.

If Apple and Google lead the way, radio brands will take a back seat in the future driving experience, said John Ellis, a consultant and former technologist for Ford Motor Company. Ellis also pointed to Alibaba and Tencent, a social network in China, as potential competitors. Meanwhile, stations will be integrated into tech companies’ in-car entertainment systems.

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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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