Re-Post: A Cold, Harsh Reality For Radio

All credit goes back to Erid Rhodes of Radio Ink on this one... but I felt obligated to share.  I hope this doesn't become some instillation of fearmongering amongst the radio-loyal.  We all saw this coming to a certain degree, but it was still harsh to finally hear.  As long as the principles of radio... the philosophy... the 'intimacy' and personalilty; as long as these elements remain, I think we'll be ok.  The delivery may change, but who knows... this could be for the better.  The next step will be discovering what the response of the FCC and Arbitron may be.  Plus, what will become of the frequencies?  All good fodder for the fast approaching future. 


I stayed in my seat and listened politely, though I wanted to jump up and cross-examine the people onstage. Frankly, I couldn't believe what I'd just heard, and it was so important that it needed to be clarified immediately. Could it really be true? I'd been predicting it for years, but when I heard those words, it was like seeing an old friend I loved being knifed in the gut. I felt victimized.
But I also felt vindicated. The moment I am referring to was during our Radio Ink Convergence conference, held earlier this week. For two days, digital experts talked about the surprising growth of online radio listening in the past 12 months. We heard statistics and facts about significant increases. We heard that the iPad is the new transistor radio and the smartphone is the new radio receiver. We heard that Google's YouTube is about to launch a radio service like Pandora, and that Apple is doing the same. So what I heard should have been no surprise, and in a way it wasn't. But it was a shock.

For a decade or more, I have been banging my fist on the table, telling radio that a moment will come that the industry must prepare for. Some listened, but most ignored it as some "out there" prediction from an overzealous futurist. Yet what I'm about to tell you is not a prediction, and it's not a guess. It's a fact. And it was a giant shock for the people who attended Convergence.

On the stage were three representatives of the automotive industry: one from Gartner Research, a highly respected tech research firm; one from the Silicon Valley offices of General Motors, where they design interactive experiences and new technology for their cars; and one who represents an industry association for the connected car. They were on a panel moderated by Buzz Knight of Greater Media, and they talked about the direction of in-car experiences, the digital dashboard, and what will be coming next to the dash of the car -- apps, Internet radio and audio in the car, and other things we knew were on the way. Then, suddenly, this statement was heard:

"AM and FM are being eliminated from the dash of two car companies within two years and will be eliminated from the dash of all cars within five years."

Gulp. Really? Did someone really just say that?

The panelists went on to say that young people don't use radio anymore, and automakers see no need to continue to put radios in the car. The kids want Pandora, Spotify, and other audio services, and if they want radio, they can get it on TuneIn or iHeart or a similar service.

I couldn't sit quietly anymore, so I went to the stage, apologized for interrupting, and started cross-examining the panel to find out if they really meant what they were saying. I was fuming inside, because it appeared they were working from incorrect assumptions. I wanted to find out if they were backed by solid data, or if they just believe "Nobody listens to the radio."...
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