Will Radio Renew Itself in 2014?

The state of radio in the US is woeful.  It’s in far, far worse shape than anything we have in Canada or the UK.  But trends in the American radio industry tend to run five to seven years ahead of what’s happening in Canada, so it’s instructive to watch what’s happening down there.

Eric Rhoads of Radio Ink isn’t feeling very optimistic right now.

Recently I attended the BIA Local conference in San Francisco. I was there to talk about radio’s role in the local marketplace and radio and the connected car. After my time onstage I listened the rest of the day as both new and established media and tech companies discussed their meteoric growth, their huge consumer adoption, how they are changing the way people connect, how they buy, and how they conduct their lives.

After the conference, I had a meeting with a prominent radio colleague and we shared horror stories about missteps in our industry. He feels radio is making too many foolish mistakes. I don’t entirely disagree.

As I traveled to the airport and then home I realized I was depressed, and I could not understand why. Then it struck me. Radio is flat, radio is not innovating, radio is not doing much of anything new. In contrast, I saw all these companies doing exciting things, changing consumer behavior and innovating. I wanted that for radio.

Though my depression has passed, I am concerned that we as an industry are not breaking our chains from the past. Do our stations really sound any different than they did five years ago? How about 30 years ago? Most morning shows sound pretty much the same, and have since Scott Shannon and Steve Kingston innovated the Z Morning Zoo decades ago. Our playlists continue to repeat “the biggest hits,” and even our sounders and ID voiceovers sound about the same as they have since Star Wars (and light saber sound effects) came out. What are we doing to reflect today?

Success formulas are important. I was a programmer and an owner, and I saw the advantages of following what works. But I’m bored with it. Is there a possibility that our listeners are also bored?

Continue reading.

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.

Let us know what you think!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.