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.

Clear Channel creates an inflection point for the radio industry

I got an special email from the Radio And Internet Newsletter (RAIN) yesterday morning titled:

“Game-changing” CC deal trades AM/FM performance royalties for digital break.

Clear Channel RadioThis is a very interesting development, rate parity for Clear Channel across broadcast mediums. We have commented for years that the Copyright Royalty Board/SoundExchange rates tilt the playing field toward traditional terrestrial broadcasters and away from the nascent digital broadcasters that use the Internet.

IHeartRadio logoFavoring one type of broadcast medium over the other makes no sense, and John Hogan Chairman of Clear Channel Media and Entertainment agrees:  “This new agreement expands label and artist participation from just digital to terrestrial broadcast radio revenues in one comprehensive framework that will give all of us a great incentive to drive the growth of the digital radio industry and allow everyone to participate financially in its growth. This market-based solution helps bring the best in music to radio listeners wherever they want to hear it”

To date there has been no commercial business that can afford the SoundExchange per play royalty rates.  Overall this agreement signals a change in the broadcast industry. Going forward terrestrial and digital might be viewed as one, where the playing field is leveled between broadcast mediums and all can participate in the resulting revenue streams.

All I can say is, it is about time.