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You Shouldn’t Bother Worrying About Digital

Lance's Line RadioInsight Blog

That’s what a prominent programming consultant is telling her readers at least.

According to Jaye Albright, who has had an illustrious career in the radio industry lasting over 50 years, there’s no reason to worry about non AM/FM based programming because “no one’s listening.”

Despite posting stats that state, “The average age of an Internet radio listener is 34 years old versus the average age of a broadcast radio listener which is 47 years old. Since the average income was found to be similar in both groups, the Internet radio audience is more affluent given their substantially younger age,” somehow that means nothing. After spinning some numbers that highlight how the percentage internet listeners in San Diego is minimal compared to AM/FM she comes to the conclusion that ad rates are so low and buyer beware.

Hey, you “forward-thinking innovators:” caveat emptor!

Let’s go back say 50 years to 1963. Around that time there were plenty of AM broadcasters saying the same thing about FM. Many FM licenses in major markets were donated or turned in because they didn’t know what to do with them and thought they were useless. It took the FCC forcing stations to break their AM simulcasts to see original programming and experimentation come to FM leading to the band finally taking off.

Internet radio is just about at that same stage. In-car streaming is just starting to become standard and it’ll take a few more years to reach critical mass. But it is coming and it is coming fast. Today Pandora stated that its in-car dashboard use has reached 2.5 million listeners nationwide, quadrupling its numbers from last year. Additionally, its app is now available on 1/3 of all new cars sold this year. But they’re not a factor!

The listener will have millions of audio choices accessible to them at the push of a button. What are we doing as an industry to keep those listeners around? What incentive is there other than familiarity keeping someone tuned to your station? These are issues that can’t be pushed to tomorrow, because tomorrow is now!

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Lance Venta is the Owner and Publisher of RadioInsight.com and a consultant for RadioBB Networks specializing in integration of radio and the internet. Lance has two decades of experience tracking the audio industry and its use of digital platforms.

1 Comment

  1. Profile photo of tested


    Really wish I had seen this sooner.. but I’m new here.
    Simply put: EVERYONE in radio needs to be thinking about how streaming programming from all kinds of places are going to impact this business in the next few years. The simple answer is that it is going to provide the listeners with a nearly limitless number of options to listen to in the car, at home, at work – everywhere. This isn’t like the advent of CDs giving people the chance to load up a disk with 12 songs on it they might like. This is a very radical change in the landscape.

    You can find “stations’ on things like Live 365 that are well-programmed, engage the audience and have a sizeable following. You can find stations from around the globe on things like TuneIn. So not only do you have to worry about some kid with a computer in his room providing a stream your listeners might want to listen to, you have competitors from other markets and other countries that may provide something your listeners like.

    To me the simple response from all radio stations should be two fold:
    1. Be live and local 24/7. No more tracked DJ slots from some far-flung location. Make sure your audience knows your DJs are in town and live on the radio right now. Make sure those DJ’s are providing something the listeners will like and won’t get from a live stream from 5,000 miles away.
    2. Make sure your station is streamed too! AM or FM can have interference in buildings and at work. If you stream your signal most of your audience will be able to find you one either thier phone or computer. Then you may be the competitor from a far taking audience away from someone who isn’t smart enough to provide their local listeners with something they want.

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