Reinventing Radio

I’ve been writing this blog for just about one year now.

I started it after my Inside Radio/Clear Channel non-compete expired.

Those of you who read me every day know that I have tried to give our beloved radio industry a good swift kick into the future.

The employees were willing, but their bosses – the consolidators – were generally not.

Consolidators prevailed. They are always doing well, but the industry they had a fiduciary responsibility for has not.

In the days ahead, we’re likely to see more insults.

The rich get richer at the expense of radio.

The poor get poorer as they will spend high amounts for devalued properties and then be expected to operate them without a future. There are probably too many radio stations in the U.S. making it difficult for all to be profitable. And now that the dew is off the lily and the next generation moves to mobile Internet radio terrestrial radio is no longer a growth business.

But those of us who have loved this business haven’t always been smart. If so, we might have followed the money before now.

So, if you’re still in the radio business in August of 2007, you’re probably going to stay. And, if you stay, you probably want to try and make a difference even if corporate oversight amounts to hindsight.

There are ways.

Let me share one.

Hire a mentor. Find someone who gets it (who knows the emerging digital, mobile music related media) and bring them in to educate your people – all of your people even the lowest on the salary scale – about the digital future.

I happened across this wisdom by accident at USC where our labs and programs act as a resource for media companies. Some of you have visited my classes at USC and know what I mean. If you could be a fly on the wall in this process you'd see the future differently for sure.

When Google burps, radio needs to know what it may mean to it.

When HD proponents blow smoke up your receiver, you might want to hear what the next generation is thinking.

When you try something “cool” on the Internet, someone has to tell you that the Internet is not the product. It’s the delivery system and that mobile is the future delivery system. And that what you tried may not be as "cool" as you think.

When you plan an on-air event, you may want to factor in what the changing marketplace will respond to.

In radio, we used to do research. Research is good, but it is no longer enough.

My suggestion is to update the industry every week in light of relevant breaking news – that’s what I try to do for my students and although some of you really hate it when I elevate my students to this status, they have a more realistic knowledge of traditional and digital media than we do.

We have the experience. They don’t have that yet.

So the trick is to commit to hiring your own mentor and do the weekly update that works for my students.

In person.

By regular conference call.

Magically, what happens is that the negativity subsides, the creative juices get flowing and new ideas emerge.

As concerned as I am about the media industry’s problems, I am excited by all the opportunities that are out there for all of us.

Convergence is fun and profitable.

But first, back to school. It's long overdue.

For those of you who would prefer to get my daily posts by email for free, please click here. Check your mail or spam filter to verify.