Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Fighting technological change...with spitballs and a cap pistol

by Don Keith

First, before I begin my rant, I hope you and yours have a wonderful bunch of holidays.

Now, let me once again castigate those who have control of my former medium--broadcast radio--for going to war against a raft full of new high-tech challengers armed only with spitballs and a cap pistol.  As the business is crumbling around them, traditional broadcasters continue to argue among themselves about which "solution" will keep them vibrant and profitable even as the whole business of audio has lapped them and is racing away from them.

Even as they load up the FM band with low-power translator stations to find so-called format niches, even as they buy off phone companies to build in FM receiver chips in their devices, they fail to notice that their former listeners are finding much more compelling audio content coming at them from all directions.  (Same is true for video content and no-clue TV station operators, too, but we won't go there for now.)  Do the radio station operators decide to invest in providing something worth listening to, programming that would make listeners stay with them, even through the commercials that the radio stations themselves say--on the air!--are evil?  ("And now, another long set of hits without commercial interruption...")

But wait.  Commentator and researcher Mark Ramsey says it better than I ever could HERE.

It is well worth the read, whether you care about radio or not.  Here is a brief excerpt if you can't be bothered to click on the link above:

I have often pondered what broadcasters could do if they turned back the clock on the six- or seven-figure investments they made in HD radio and funneled just a portion of that capital expense into the quality of their content.
Which makes your brand more compelling in the face of “fractionalizing attention”? Investments in HD radio? Or investments in superior content? Debates about the “connected car”? Or content that draws people to your brand no matter what channel distributes it? FM chips on mobile phones? Or content that demands to be heard on mobile phones, regardless of the mechanism?
Rapid technological change can be a good thing.  It can also trample into the ground those who don't have the smarts, creativity, or insight to react and take advantage of it.

A bunch of people who hold licenses for radio stations are getting trampled right this very minute.