Back to Ultimate Oldies Home

Ultimate Oldies Radio Forum

[ Back to the listing ] [ Post Reply ] [ Help ] [ Search ]
[ List All Forums ]

Posted By: Larry Stoler on: 11/22/2006 13:56:25 EST
Subject: Will Radio Ever Get It Right?

Message Detail:
Will Radio Ever Get It Right
By Larry Stoler

Radio, a medium which offered a variety of different formats which millions of people listened to for many years, is now facing challenges from many different places. Satellite radio, the Internet, iPods, etc. How has the broadcast industry reacted to the different choices that listeners now have to obtain music and information?

During the past year, a campaign to make the audience appreciate how radio has enhanced the careers of many musicians and performers was heard on many stations. Spots were aired to promote radio and were played throughout the country however the audience did not notice or discuss them.

A few years ago, XM and Sirius the two satellite services, entered the radio landscape. Both promised hundreds of channels with commercial free music including different styles and formats that were no longer available on regular over the air radio. Different choices for news, talk and sports were also made available to anyone who subscribed to either of the two services.

XM was first to launch which gave them a head start on promotion to the audience. Sirius came later.

As time went on, the satellite companies began to hire well known voices to host different channels. Howard Stern left commercial radio and transferred his program to Sirius where he oversees two channels.

Opie and Anthony who had been fired by Infinity Broadcasting in 2,002 for the Sex in St. Patrick's Cathedral incident were hired by XM and this year returned to the air in a deal they arranged with CBS Radio. They do a three hour show on both CBS and XM and then they are heard for a couple of more hours exclusively on satellite radio. The CBS/XM simulcast is heard during morning drive in most markets and is delayed till later in the day in a couple of places.

Sirius gave Martha Stewart her own channel. XM began a 11 year agreement to broadcast major league baseball games from all over the country. These are just a few examples of what has happened to satellite radio over the years.

At first, the industry chose to ignore satellite radio's existence however recently they felt they had to react so HD radio entered the race to get more listeners.

HD Radio, developed by Ibiquity Digital Corporation, is a service that promises the listeners FM sound quality on AM and CD quality on FM. It does not require the public to pay any subscription fees or any other costs after purchasing the proper receiver and any associated hardware.

The company has assured the major radio group owners that they will provide many different kinds of music plus in depth talk shows and interviews.

The AM band offers only one channel for digital audio while on FM, their are more choices which lead to more program diversity.

At this point, very few radios are on the market that handle this technology and according to people I have spoken to, they do not have the sensitivity required for the average person to comfortably listen to what they enjoy.

I have listened to some of the HD channels and I feel they are not to different from what is on analog radio. Although formats that have disappeared from the air are on HD, most of the stations do not have any announcers. This is also the case with satellite radio.

When the HD Alliance was formed to promote this technology, they said that HD would be commercial free for approximately 18 months. Most stations are at this point however this will change and when it does, it will be probably voicetracked from different locations as so much of regular radio is today.

Their is no guarantee that new talent will result on HD radio as more receivers become available and stations start airing commercials and if new broadcasters are heard, they will probably sound the same as what is already available all over the country.

Another point is that with the number of channels available on HD radio, information such as traffic and weather and song titles can be available on a digital screen. This will result in more people losing their jobs in the broadcast business.

Stations will feel they don't have to pay disc jockeys because what they do is being displayed on HD. This would be a loss in an industry that does not have any security as it is.

I also find it ironic that the same people that took oldies off the air in New York and Chicago are playing the music on their HD channels. They removed oldies last year because they felt the audience was getting to old and they could not properly sell the format. They wanted to reach the "25/54 or the "big money" demographic. This led to many other stations taking this music off the air.

What makes the people in decision making positions in broadcasting think that they will be able to successfully promote HD or any other technology? The public does not understand what HD is as pointed out in a recent survey. They think they are getting better sound quality from the station they are already listening to with the radio they have owned for years. This is poor promotion by the HD Alliance and the many groups that have backed this development.

I think HD was not well planned from a promotion, marketing and programming standpoint. The people that believe so strongly in this are talking out of both sides of their mouths and they have ignored Internet Radio which is growing at a faster rate than both satellite and HD combined.

Approximately 19 million people a week listen online. They do not need to purchase an additional receiver or have to subscribe to the majority of stations that are available. Online radio offers many choices and unlike the examples I mentioned earlier, the Internet is interactive.

Over the next few years, as the technology continues to progress forward, people will be able to walk around and listen to their favorite streams or download the music they like from anywhere. This is already beginning.

The best example for downloading music is the iPod. The iPod allows anyone to store up to 10,000 songs. This gives anyone the right to listen to what they want anytime without any commercials.

iPods have grown in popularity very quickly and this is not expected to stop.

While major companies continue to waste time, money and energy on worrying and reacting to the new technology, the answer I feel is right in front of them. Improve the quality of what is on AM and FM.

Work on making your station stand out. Make the audience feel excited about what they are hearing. Make people feel they will be missing something if they turn the radio off.

Work on encouraging and hiring new talent that know how to talk to people and not at them. Cut back on voicetracking and syndicated shows. The listeners notice that something is different and they are leaving their radios off.

The one thing that radio has over all this technology is that it can bring local product to the audience. Stations must get back to truly serving the area they are licensed to.

Radio is not dead, however if it does not change for the better soon, it could be just a memory for many in a few years.

It has been stated that it will take three years for HD to catch on and a long time before both Sirius and XM break even. Radio can not afford to wait.

The 25 year old and younger demographic is going elsewhere to hear what they want. Unless radio improves, getting them to return will be a lost cause.

As I have said in the past, the audience and the industry deserve better than what passes for good radio. Improve radio now and quit putting so much concentration on HD and other innovations which will fade into oblivion in the future.
Larry Stoler

Follow ups:

Post a follow up message
Type your Reply here:
This posting is a:

Don't Agree

Need Feedback
Meeting Request

Message Search
Search ALL Forums
Filter Messages
Show messages for past days.
Name Search
Type in a full or partial name
Keyword Search
Enter keyword(s) you want to search for seperated by a space.

Match Case?
Match ALL Keywords
Match ANY Keyword