I Invented WiFi -- Really!

My first program director job was working for a wild man named John Tenaglia in Philadelphia at a General Cinema radio station with a signal you could only hear in a helicopter or so it seemed. The call letters were WIFI (92.5 FM). I say I invented WiFi because I pulled the plug on our Drake-Chenault automation "Hit Parade" to introduce live "Stereo Hits". Worked with some great people like Bill Figenshu and Mike Anderson, now publisher of STL Media. Lee Abrams also tangled with Johnny T in his career and we all survived and I guess were better off for it. Back then WIFI was an early adopter top 40 station in an age when all the listeners were listening to AM radios. It's hard to believe looking back on it. Wasn't FM better? Of course, but few knew it. Cars still didn't have FM radios as standard equipment (for my USC students reading this, I'm not that old, radio was just that behind the times). So nothing has changed. Radio is still behind the times. And now the new "WiFi" really threatens to clean some clocks. Once universal "WiFi" is in place the next generation -- the one terresterial radio turned off before they turned to the Internet -- will be able to carry their Internet with them on mobile devices. Radio will find it hard put to compete with the wide variety of Internet Radio stations delivered through universal "WiFi". (Ironically, Philadelphia recently took the lead on making "WiFi" available within the city limits. "WiFi" must be a Philly thing all around). It makes me wonder, what can radio do to save itself from this lethal blow. I am convinced that smart radio operators will move to transform themselves into new age content providers (we have programs such as Music Media Solutions Lab at USC to help). To be blunt -- if radio operators don't get into the content business -- the mobile content business -- the entire industry will be like an AM station not back in the day when AM was king, but today when AM is when you go to Starbucks -- at least to the next generation. Poor signal or not my jocks and I always thought our WIFI in Philly was a killer. This "WiFi" will really be a killer and you won't need a helicopter to receive it.