The Reluctant Broadcaster

By Dave Van Dyke, Inside Music Media Contributor

For many of us who have been in this great radio business for more than three years, the idea that the paradigm is/has shifted out from under us is a bit like feeling your first earthquake. It's crazy! Unlike most natural disasters, earthquakes give you the feeling that you are no longer in control - that there is, indeed, a greater force at work and you can't do a damn thing about it. Welcome to the world of traditional Radio 2.0 - the new reality. Does traditional radio's senior management have trouble seeing that their legacy businesses can not only peacefully but constructively co-exist side-by-side with digital media. The combination can be quite potent.
  • Broadcast towers + any digital network = greater reach.
  • Professional DJ's/hosts + user-generated content = more compelling programming.
  • Being "local" + being virtually local, national, even global = vast audiences.
  • Scheduled programming + time-shifted content = convenience for listeners.
  • Over the air or streamed transmission + recorded, shared or networked = greater distribution
  • Single programs with many listeners + many large niches of listeners = listener super-serving
  • A radio receiver for AM or FM + many digital devices = traditional radio can be everywhere
  • Only ad revenue + content revenue + fees + upsells = multiple revenue streams and recovery of lost traditional dollars
  • A "receive only" or one-way system + an Interactive system = greater listener satisfaction
The transition from old to new requires a juggling act of sorts. Traditional radio must maintain its current 'legacy business' while quickly adapting to this new reality. Develop the new with the resources of the hold. It can be done - they are not mutually exclusive. Yet when I sit in front of broadcast executives and try to help them navigate the future and we discuss how they have the power to adjust, they acknowledge that they need to do some/all of it, but they insist they can't! They just don't have the resources. Sure, radio matured into a business sometime in the 80's, and there's nothing wrong with being a business with positive cash flow and expenses. But, folks, business has sucked the life out of this business. In the 80's and 90's, before consolidation, broadcast companies figured out how to make money and how to spend money. Something bad happened in '96. The last ten years have not been good to our business and now we're attempting to fight our way out. The industry has its visionaries who have carefully explained what to do. There's just not enough courage at the highest levels to do what needs to be done. Yet. (Dave Van Dyke is President of Bridge Ratings)