Brave New World for Radio

The year is 2015 and it is the time of Radio’s rebirth. The crushing reality that digital, the pure plays, and traditional, appointment TV had not delivered the market share or brand awareness that so many predicted only a few years back, has finally dawned on the accountants, manufacturers, media experts, bloggers, and various agencies who were the vocal proponent of almost any media except Broadcast Radio.

It is also the dawn of sophisticated consumer research coupled with actual purchases and filtered through the prism of an impartial ROI media analysis. The term ROI became synonymous with Radio as case study after case study proved decisively how powerful and cost effective Radio truly was, and always had been. Years of reducing Radio to single digit media budgets had ended as Radio finally took its place as a full partner at the media table of advertising campaigns across the country.

Advertisers faced brutal competition on all fronts and an ever mobile and restless customer base that clearly listened to local Radio; and so advertisers learned they could no longer invest in the “shiny new objects” or a promised revenue return that could not be substantiated or proven over time. They abandoned the various “new best things” in favor of the documented power of Broadcast Radio, and in all its forms and devices from which it was constantly airing content 24/7.

It is also the time of actual Radio listener growth. Despite all the competition from so many platforms and so many entertainment and information options, Radio listening continued to grow. Its universal human appeal could not be stopped or even slowed from the massive marketing assaults of Sirius/XM, Pandora, the In-Dash media options, and all of the other Internet pure play music services, which now numbered about 10. 

In the end, all of these real or imagined competitors to Radio collapsed under the collective weight of their automated programming that did not appeal to local listening needs or interests and worse, were not an accepting environment for commercial messages from advertisers; the ultimate and final judge of what service survived in the very tough market environment of 2015.

2015 also ushered in legitimate and fully accredited digital audience measurement from Nielsen Audio, the most credible and trustworthy source of this burgeoning consumer preference for listening to Radio. Its industry accepted standards became the true currency of digital audio measurement and opened up a new and decisive growth opportunity for all of Radio.

The pure plays were forced to adhere to these new exacting standards from Nielsen and as a painful result, the real audience of these pure plays was fully revealed to be a fraction of what previous measurement systems had touted…erroneously. AQH must have the same definition for all platforms. Credits, make goods, and substantial refunds were the bane of the pure play’s existence for most of 2015, leaving some to abandon the space as it could not compete with Radio’s solid listenership and accepted business model.

Hundreds of previously “digital only” advertisers happily flocked to the new audio digital platforms that only Broadcast Radio could now offer and the huge “new” audience it “surprisingly” provided.
Its digital audience now fully captured and described, Radio bravely expanded its ubiquitous reach by finally completing the installation of the long overdue FM chip into every new cell phone sold in the United States, an achievement of epic importance for FEMA, the FCC, and the general well-being of the listening public as well as for Radio.

The Radio renaissance and reawakening of Broadcast Radio was not limited to the FM band. 2015 saw AM Radio evolve with the dynamic pace of change and the multi-ethnic make up of many American cities and towns. Millions of “new Americans” wanted their own native language and cultural stations and so, the era of AM ethnic Radio expanded at breathtaking speeds. With almost 220 different languages spoken in Southern California alone, non-growth AM signals quickly moved from English speaking programming to Farsi, Asian, Spanish, and more as new markets and new opportunities presented themselves to AM owners simply by looking at the census bureau data and trends.

Just like America itself, AM Radio was being reinvented and reimagined by brilliant programmers who understood their audience and what they wanted to hear, and in the language they wanted to hear it in. As a result, an entirely new advertiser base was formed as motivated, selective new consumers were born, thanks to AM Radio!

Tech companies began to see the steady erosion of their teams to Broadcast Radio as terms like “very cool” “huge opportunity”, “totally mobile”, “creative labs”, and more began to describe Radio for a new generation of sellers, programmers, and digital developers. On-air talent sensed the renaissance and quickly jumped to the “new” multi-platform opportunities that only Broadcast Radio could provide the creative and truly talented.

Sales teams at Radio stations were formed to super serve industries for complete client understanding and collaboration as prior knowledge of an industry and category was as important as “previous sales experience” in the hiring process. Programmers developed “Listener Advisory Boards” made of core listeners with weekly conversations about station programming feedback and became more directly involved in their station events. Major advertisers and agencies would invest in “Immersion trips” to various Radio offices and studios to actively learn (not be sold to) how each station can become a deeper partner in their advertising thinking and strategy.

The passion for excellence in programming, sales, engineering, promotions, branding, and human capitol were reignited and forged into new standards of excellence for commercial Radio that saw this 90 year old become a child again and reinvent itself as Radio has always done over many decades.

With monthly and quarterly goals being achieved, Radio would now invest more deeply into the “long tail” of new programming ideas, talent, more complete sales and platform training, enhanced Imagineering, and increased focus on serving its local communities to better benefit their city of license and enhance the quality of life in all of America.

That is the promise and potential of Radio…

The brave new world for Radio began in 2015.

It was the year of reinvention, new distribution, Radio’s exceptional ROI, and the human assets that made it all happen.

It is said the future belongs to those who can see it and make it reality.

Won’t you join us?