We work in radio. To those who don't work in radio, our jobs usually evoke a wide-eyed response about how cool it must be. I'm sure you agree, after all, you're probably in this business mainly because you like radio.
But what comes next in that conversation? And I mean after the "Have you met..." and "Can you get tickets for..." The other person may tell you about his favorite station, but the conversation usually ends rather quickly. The other person tends to steer conversation to his own listening habits, such as online, satellite or portable media player. Even though terrestrial radio is working hard to retain listeners and stay relevant, despite all we do in radio to maintain position in the consumer media ranks, we just don't go far enough to really make that big splash.
Look at the current state of radio.
The HD Radio rollout has slowed. It's still the most promising future for terrestrial today, but it's just not seeing the consumer interest we all would like. Granted, there are more HD Radio receivers available than before, and Toshiba just joined the ranks of HD Radio automotive chip manufacturers. You see it from time to time, but outside our own circles, it's not carrying a strong top-of-mind awareness with consumers.
How about getting radio receivers in more portable devices? There's not much going on here either. A few cell phones have a radio receiver, but not a significant portion. The Ipod and Iphone — the most recognized personal media devices — don't have a built-in radio receiver.
There is some promise from Microsoft: the Microsoft Zune has an FM receiver. The Zune HD will have an FM HD Radio receiver. That's a good feature, but the Zune doesn't have the uber-device capability (or the multiple app base) of the Ipod/Iphone. The messages are mixed on whether or not that will change, but for now, it's a limited device.
Even the Zune HD preview campaign held at the end of August at Best Buy stores around the country generated very little response. Granted, that was an effort for the player and not the radio, but shouldn't radio have played a bigger part of the event?
What about HD Radio marketing itself? I hear ads for HD Radio on local radio stations quite often. These are run in unsold ad inventory positions. While these efforts are touted as part of a multi-million dollar ad campaign, there's no money changing hands. It's a good effort to reach the audience in their own domain, but where are the ads on TV, in newspapers, in movie theaters and elsewhere?
The same is true for the Radio Heard Here campaign. Radio is marketed on the radio but nowhere else.
It's not all doom and gloom. I see efforts from several groups and some individual owners to keep their stations at the forefront. But despite that, for all we do to promote ourselves as a consumer technology, we keep coming up short.
On the road
I'll talk at the 127th AES Convention during the Innovations in Digital Broadcast session on Oct. 9 at 11:30 a.m. I'll provide an overview of SBE Certification.
I'll also attend the NAB Radio Show (of course) and the SBE National Meeting and SBE22 Broadcast Technology Expo in Verona, NY, Oct 6-7.
What's your opinion? Send it to