The New Radio

UK radio stations will begin being able to sell digital music downloads to their audiences in real time early next year. It's significant because the developers are calling it "digital radio's killer application". All the major radio groups and labels are on board for the roll out that requires a pre-paid plan for anyone interested in buying music from a digital radio station. Here's the part that's revealing. They claim more 15-24 year olds are listening to radio than ever but that as UBC's CEO Simon Cole says, "radio revenue is not rising to sustain the development". Come again? More listeners than ever in this demo but not a commensurate increase in revenue? You can't blame radio operators for wanting a bite out of the digital apple. They no doubt should explore every opportunity. My sense is that the next generation is not likely to vote thumbs up on digital radio downloads. Radio is late to the party. The real killer app for this demographic is WiFi. When universal WiFi makes carrying the Internet around in cars, in portable devices -- everywhere -- it will become the new radio. Of course terrestrial radio broadcasters can be part of all this if they don't continue to limit their horizons to transmitters and towers. The next generation lives where radio doesn't reside -- and can't reside technologically speaking. But traditional radio can become a provider of content in a new digital world. The choice is theirs.