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At Leading in Local: ILM 2013: Radio Living in Two Different Worlds

By: 17 December 2013

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The entrance into a new digital age has brought endless changes to the world. Current media is in a state of transformation, undergoing great modification in its traditional medium form – from print to digital. The century old Radio industry is not excluded from this transition. It is facing ever increasing competition from new and innovative digital media outlets that are available to local advertisers, but within this competition lies opportunity.

Publisher Eric Rhodes, a leading voice for progressive radio, gave his take on “the new digital stuff” and introduces new areas for the radio industry, such as “the connected car” in the first session of Day 3 at Leading in Local conference.

BIA/Kelsey’s advertising revenue forecasts illustrate that national advertisers play a significant role in the purchasing of advertising opportunities across many different local media outlets. In 2012, our estimates are that national brands spent $45.2 billion dollars in local media advertising such as direct mail, television, print yellow pages, radio, out-of-home and more. This amount accounts for more than a third (33.6 percent) of all spending in local media. “The Radio industry is caught between two worlds” said Rhodes. Current radio owners are invested heavily in transmission costs and they see no compelling reason to back out of it now. They have seen little decline on listening time in the last years – only between 1-2 percent. Compounded with the difficulty to monetize digital radio when consumed out of market areas, makes the idea of transition far more difficult. The radio industry is waiting for things to get further developed, but entities such as Clear channel and iHeartRadio are investing heavy and it may be too late for the traditional players in the space to transition. As we know, digital moves fast, so although Radio maybe okay now, it may not be with continuation of newer developing technologies in the digital space.

The “connected car” emerged as one of the most important touch-points on the horizon for radio, given that the car is where audiences continue to report that a good deal of radio listening continues to happen.   Tech savvy consumers are already listening to streamed audio in their cars via blue-tooth through their smart phones, or connecting through plug-ins, and the configuration of the dash board could make a real difference to Radio’s future. People are no longer carrying radios on them. However, Rhodes said “It’ll take 8 years for 50 percent of the U.S. cars to have connected dashboards and 16 years for 100% of them to be connected.”

The question remains: Where and when does the transition need to happen?


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