by Carlo Longino

The Media Possibilities Are Infinite, But People's Time Isn't

from the up-next-on-bob-fm dept

It's not surprising to see an article saying that people aged 12 to 24 don't listen to the radio as much as they used to, with the amount of time they spend listening to radio each week off about 20 percent over the last ten years. The article attributes the slide to a lack of stations actively targeting young people, but also that radio is having a hard time competing with all the other media options young people have today. This phenomenon isn't limited to just young people, but it's an idea that many media companies don't yet seem to realize. Radio stations, for instance, don't just compete with the iPod -- they compete for listeners' attention with MySpace, TV, YouTube, blogs, and whatever else. And given the control most of those other media offer users over their experience -- for instance, on an iPod, you listen to what you want to hear, not what some faceless program director wants you to hear (or is paid to play for you) -- it's easy to see why commercial radio could be struggling. When radio stations should be figuring out ways to differentiate themselves and stand out from other media outlets, conglomerates like Clear Channel are taking steps like removing local DJs, and buying up as many stations as possible then turning them into format-driven bastions of homogeneity. While broadcast radio obviously can't offer the same type of interactive experience as new media sites and services, stations can differentiate on their content, while also using new distribution mechanisms like podcasts to change the way people listen. But the important point for radio stations to understand is that they're not just in competition with the iPod, or other musical services and products; they're competing for users' time against every other type of media. Short of cramming more hours into the day, it's hard to see a bright future for mass-market, cookie-cutter music radio when so many other outlets offer users so much more control and compelling content.

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  • identicon
    Roy, 16 Oct 2006 @ 3:26am

    Well, I'm hopelessly out of touch

    A lack of stations targeting young people? When I make that rare scan across the available stations, I find primarily three classes: classic rock, country and that "urban-oriented" programming (which sure seems aimed at persons younger than myself). Then I switch to the Squeezebox and fire up Radio Paradise.

    Frankly, I haven't been able to listen to terrestrial broadcast radio in years. Thank goodness for net radio, or I'd never hear a new song that I stand a chance of liking.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    tek'a, 16 Oct 2006 @ 3:43am


    Clearchannel controls a large percentage of radio stations in the DFW metroplex. that alone is reason to switch to another format. Ipod, Satelite, CDs, anything.

    I leave so-called HD-Radio out of the extras list, because I dont feel like paying for a new receiver to get the same stuff from the same big corporation (only clearchannel stations are talking about their "amazing new digital radio, with stuff they would never dare play on 'normal' radio)

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  • identicon
    Leroy X, 16 Oct 2006 @ 6:28am

    Programming to youth

    As a former person in the broadcast industry... making a radio station targeted for a particular demographic is simple. That process is as old as the radio biz itself. Making a radio station that is economically viable for a specific demographic is another story. Finding enough businesses to advertise on a station that plays gangster rap is not as easy as one that plays Elton John and Journey. The horizontal integration of groups like Clear Channel into a specific market allows them to market smaller niche markets with specific programming. The future of local radio will remain because a large portion of the population will never be annoyed by ads and a small selection of music. You don't see local TV stations going out of business either for the exact same reasons. Satellite and CD's cannot be "local", but radio can be - this has a huge attraction for many people.
    The primary reason HD radio was invented was to add more revenue streams because it allows broadcasters to place ads on your HD radio faceplate. I have my doubts that HD radio will survive as more people get angry when their car radio flashes: CLICK HERE - YOU'RE A WINNER.


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  • identicon
    ebrke, 16 Oct 2006 @ 7:49am

    It's not just mass-market cookie cutter raio that's suffering--I think it's all radio. I realize it means less than nothing to most people, but there are almost no jazz stations left on the air in this country, and classical music stations are also failing fast. In the New York metro area, I'm lucky still to be able to receive both, although I contribute heavily to a public radio station and a university-sponsored station to help make that possible. I infuriates me that they take these stations off the air and switch to a format (cookie-cutter radio) with which they still can't make money.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    James, 16 Oct 2006 @ 8:36am

    FM radio sux

    I never realized how badly until I got XM sattelite radio in my car... I love it. Listening to FM now is akin to torture.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Sanguine Dream, 16 Oct 2006 @ 8:59am

    I just dont get to listen...

    to FM becuase I hardly travel and I only have a 10 min drive to work so I dont' bother turning on the radio. And its a lot easier and cheaper to use and SomaFM on my PC than to buy and setup a stereo system.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ConceptJunkie (profile), 16 Oct 2006 @ 1:44pm

    The average radio station...

    Radio? For music? How quaint.

    I've heard the average radio station has a playlist of 400 songs and frequently interrupts them with 5-6 minute stretches of annoying ads.

    My 80GB Neuros has almost 13000 songs, random access and no commercials.

    Now to be honest, I do listen to one radio station: C-Span.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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