Radio needs to answer the right question

Mark Ramsey Media LogoIn the article published on Mark Ramsey Media yesterday Mark asked the question, “Is Radio Asking The Wrong Questions?“.   Mark astutely contrasts the relative view of radio’s importance to two different classes of media company: newspapers and traditional radio.  In one camp, he characterizes radio as a strategic opportunity to expand, while in the other, the myopic pressure of ratings as usual. The Arbitron rating, focusing their primary view internally and on other radio stations, their competitors.

Clearly, the media landscape is changing as classifications between types of media companies shifts and the lines get blurred. The right questions, you conclude, involve looking outward to determine how your customers will get value and how your consumers will be finding their entertainment.

A great example is what is happening here in Boston. Recently WFNX, an iconic local independent radio station sold its signal to Clear Channel while keeping their content, FNX brand and other intellectual property.  While it was unsettled what would happen next with the FNX assets, a brand of the Boston Globe, whose parent is the New York Times, came in and hired all the FNX people to launch their own online radio station.

That’s right, a media entity that is acting like a media entity.  It is not just publishing newspapers or broadcasting terrestrially.  It is about integrating content across media platforms.  The site has a Globe 10.0 video section along with many articles.  Adding a radio station is just another way for them to serve their customers.

There is a lot of hand wringing about terrestrial radio stations getting sold off to other media companies, just like there is about terrestrial college radio stations being sold off for their spectrum.  To us running a radio station is not about having a frequency or tower, it is about content and getting it out to your audience.  It has never been easier to start a radio station and getting your content out.

Listen to your customers, follow how they are consuming content.  It will not be as you imagined.  So, don’t ask the wrong question.  Start the discussion with your customers and engage.  It will lead you to where your station needs to go.

Radio Dying? Not on your life.

Skull Headphones CigaretteHow many times have you heard it: “Adapt or die”?  It sounds heartless, yet it poses the essential question of radio’s survival.  Is radio dying?  Nope, but it is going somewhere else, and not by itself.

Take the recurring news of disappearing stations, like this post from the Dialy Iowan, College Radio Fights for Recognition, Funding.  To summarize the article, it provides some color about what is happening at many campuses — funding is being cut for the radio station or that the school is selling off its terrestrial radio frequency. In these economic times, it must be difficult for an administration to pass up millions of dollars for an FM station that continues to be worth less as Internet radio starts to become dominant.

So, that raises the question of whether a school that agrees to sell off its terrestrial radio signal can actually support a broadcast journalism program. Well, it’s not only schools. All media are facing similar challenges and looking for the best ways to respond.

Throughout the industry, you can see signs of a growing creative trend: integrated media.  For example, one of our newest member schools, Lehman College, has integrated its Internet radio station presence into its online newspaper, the Bronx Journal.  Media integration such as this was a persistent theme we heard at the CMA conference in New York last month.

We are also seeing mixed modalities in the mainstream media.  None other than the esteemed Wall Street Journal has integrated video into its site.  The Boston Globe has its Globe 10.0 video.  Sports radio powerhouse WEEI in Boston now has both an online presence and video on its site.

We first wrote about this in our white paper, The New Breed of College (and High School) Internet Radio-Surviving the Dinosaur.  It is more apparent now.  Journalism isn’t dying, either.  It is transitioning to a new paradigm as radio becomes a big part of it.  With evolving convergence occurring on the Internet, a college, university or high school can reach a much larger audience than it has in the past, using a truly integrated media strategy.  It is the path to the future.  Embrace it.