Radio Blog

This page contains blog articles on a range of topics of interest to professionals in radio sales, including everything from selling technique to the state of the industry. If you have an opinion on any issue regarding radio or would like to share some of your sales techniques with others, you can submit an article for the blog here (max 400 words, please).

Back To Basics

The wealth of new media and communication devices and platforms out there is simultaneously baffling, exciting and fear-inducing. What to go for first? How will radio compete? What will media look like in ten years? Or five years? Or by Christmas?

We can't know for sure. But we do know that the massive increase in the number of niche choices in everything 'media' makes the number of big media events which get watched or listened to by a huge number of people shrink. In other words, there become fewer and fewer blockbusters, and more and more (lots and lots more) of niche programming plays.

Through all this remember that the total amount of media being consumed is not getting smaller; quite the opposite. In total more media is being consumed now than at any time in history. The problem is that getting millions and millions of people to watch / buy / listen to any one thing, is so much harder.

This is the issue that will have the biggest effect on radio as we know it, because it changes the model upon which radio's fortunes over the last twenty years at least have been based. With so many choices out there, it becomes almost impossible to program via music alone, any one station, especially in a large market, in a way that satisfies a big enough number of people to make money. This is the fact radio has to face. It may be avoidable now; it may be avoidable for another couple of years. But it's a fact.

Of course though, there is a flip side to this; a silver lining if you like, and it's one that radio has to grab with both hands. The vast majority of all the niche programming being produced, whether by podcasters, bloggers, Internet radio stations, whatever, is just OK. Not fantastic, not ultimately satisfying, but OK enough that, when paired up with all the other choices, it makes for a varied experience.

Producing really good, authentic, human, entertaining audio content is really, really hard. Really, not just 'anyone' can do it. Few people can, actually. It's a real skill, and one which is best learned on-air, live, while receiving real feedback from happy or disgruntled listeners. That kind of environment is really hard to find online, from your bedroom, creating podcasts.

Radio's huge advantage, should we decide to take it, is that we have the history and experience and talent to make really good, compelling, human content. We can make content that, in large markets, if we maintain locally relevant content, will continue to deliver sizable audiences; audiences as big as anyone else can deliver, for sure.

In small markets we can continue to dominate and improve that reputation. Content is king, now more than ever before. Localism is the key to content. And humans are vital in the mix. The era of making money from playlists is, basically, dead.

Indeed, this simple formula is more important than worrying about any of the technology involved in delivery of content. It's the content itself that has to be right first. Today we have the means for delivering content in many different, exciting ways. That's really all these 'technologies' are. Delivery mechanisms. But without content, what have you to deliver? If you do have great content however, it can be spliced and diced and the same shows delivered in bits and pieces via a hundred different routes - which can only be good news; more ways than ever to get to our listeners and more ways than ever to create interesting combinations and tie-ins with advertisers.

The future really is bright - if we're willing to take it. It's just that, like when trying to solve anything complex, you have to make it simple first. If we get back to basics; investing in people-driven, locally-focused, truly professional, entertaining content, the battle is already half won.

Email this article to someone

Radio Blog