Radio and Airlines

The radio business is really the airline business.

Flying back to Philly for the hockey playoffs this week, it occurred to me that the similarities are so striking.

Radio and airlines crave consolidation and each has failed miserably as consolidated industries. That doesn’t keep them from lobbying for further monopoly, however. See, they are birds of a feather.

The airline business blames high fuel prices for not being able to make a profit. The radio stations of America blame just about anything that can be called entertainment. Those damn iPods are killing us. The Internet is siphoning off radio listeners. Just about everything but newspapers gets the blame.

What’s killing aviation and radio is mismanagement and lack of leadership.

The airline industry is cutting inventory – running fewer planes to pressure inventory so they can charge more. Okay, I lied – radio isn’t like the airlines here, but they should be.

And, there is one other difference – radio execs fly private and poor airline execs fly – well, on their own dirty, under-maintained planes. At least they’re in first.

But there are a lot of other legitimate similarities.

Airline customers are unhappy because the airlines have forgotten or are unwilling to treat their fliers with respect and even dignity. You have to pay to check an extra bag (costs more for extra fuel, you know). More for an aisle or window seat – once a perk for many frequent flier programs. Food – forget about it. I used miles to fly first from Phoenix to Philadelphia. I’m writing this onboard. I was just offered a sandwich. Salad? No, we’re out of them. I lost 150,000 frequent flier miles for these two tickets! At least the seat is wider.

And that’s another similarity – CEOs in both businesses have so many perks they live the good lives and have wider seats!

Radio’s younger listeners are unhappy with the repetition their parents have hated but accepted for years and years. Playlists that are tiny. Too many commercials. Bland programming. No fun. Geez – why not turn on your iPod?

Both the aviation and radio industries live by the mantra – less is more.

The airlines live for the next merger.

The radio business – well, you know.

The airlines are run by a group of maniacal CEOs who think they know everything.

Radio? No comment.

The aviation business is a monopoly that can only be challenged by startups from future mavericks like Southwest and JetBlue. Very costly.

Radio – available for free – can only be challenged by the Internet which is why radio is not interested in seeing new competitors thrive as 24/7 streaming stations thus the cavalier attitude about copyright fees for Internet streamers. Very costly.

Airlines and radio stations make their money traveling through the air.

Both have turbulence in their businesses.

And, as always, a crash landing would be catastrophic for either.

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