July 2, 2014—Forbes Magazine is reporting that a study commissioned by the car-sharing company Zipcar shows that nearly 40% of millennials (a person reaching adulthood around the year 2000, putting them at about age 32 today) think losing their phone would be more of a hardship than losing use of an automobile. Additionally, they also believe it would be a greater loss than that of a desktop, laptop, or a TV. The study goes on to say that 16 percent of people 35 and older think losing their phones would be more difficult to take than losing access to a desktop, laptop, or TV. More than 40 percent of people 35 and older believe losing their cars would be the hardest aspect of their lives to give up; only one-quarter of the millennials surveyed agreed that a car comes first.
The implications for over-the-air radio are serious, since in-car listening has been a strong point of entry for radio listeners for decades. It''s unfortunately clear that as time goes on, the universe of radio listeners is shrinking. Does that mean it''s time to throw in the towel and to give up? I don''t believe so; I believe over the next 5 to 10 years an equilibrium point will be reached where the percentage of listening ‘on-line'' will plateau, as will over-the-air listening, though it will be at a lower overall percentage than now. For this reason it''s important to maintain OTA facilities while building and maintaining new facilities for on-line listeners as well.
The battle for listeners is really ours to lose; with a 90-year head start, we''re still in the driver''s seat. Notice that many (if not all) the on-line only services refer to themselves as ‘radio'' even though from a technical standpoint, it''s nothing to do with radio. To me, that says it all. They''re striving to be what we already are.