It's the End of the World as We Know It and I Feel Fine
You may have noticed all hell breaking loose around us these last few days--earthquakes, tidal waves, cats and dogs living together--clearly time is out of joint, and the universe is not the place it used to be. From Forbes, last week:
"Absolutely, for radio to be competitive it has to be local," says Tom Barnes, CEO of MediaThink, a business strategy consultant that works with several radio stations in various-sized markets. While syndication works for relatively generic shows like pop chart countdowns and some morning drive slots, everyday music radio isn't going to compete with MP3 players and online streaming by mimicking them. Differentiation is the key.Back when I was a program director in small-town radio, I had my own version: We are not going to be able to compete with the big sticks in the larger markets up the road head-to-head on the music we play. Where we're going to carve our niche is with what goes on between the records. Now it seems that all these years later, the radio industry's biggest players are starting to get the message. That's right, kids: Local radio featuring actual personalities is coming back into fashion.
Barnes notes that while 95% of U.S. households still tune in to broadcast radio, the average time people spend listening has dropped steadily for years.
A renewed concentration on going local "is the only thing that can save the industry," he says.
On the list of things I thought might happen before I'm encased in Lazarus' Box--Cubs win the pennant, Kate Hudson calls for a date, etc.--this development ranked pretty far down the list. But if the consultants understand it--the same people who homogenized radio into irrelevance in the first place (and, I might add, who largely ignored iPods and satellite radio until those horses were pretty far out of the barn)--I think I'll be getting a call from Kate any day now.