Radio With Pictures

Radio is no longer just radio.

It is online streams or do-it-yourself music downloading.

TV is no longer just TV.

It’s YouTube for short stuff and Hulu and the like for watching full length shows on demand and on your computer.

If you are under 25 or have children that age, you might already know that, increasingly, they watch TV and movies on their laptops and PCs. You might have invested a lot of money in High Definition TV sets but to them, it’s all about being in the right position. On the sofa, laptop nearby and the freedom of seeing popular shows and movies while doing other things.

There is the "downside" of putting up with commercials but many simply click away until the short commercial ends.

I’m focusing on this growing trend because it has many repercussions for radio and even for print.

When at one time consumers read newspapers, books or magazines when they wanted to read, today’s technology enables them to click and read to their heart’s desire. Amazon’s Kindle, an electronic book that allows you to store hundreds of books on a little tablet-sized device, has been so popular since introduction that there is a backlog to get one.

Click and read.

When radio was invented, consumers turned on the radio and dialed through to tune in stations. Not much has changed except digital life makes it easier to operate a radio in a car's entertainment center.

Entertainment Center? Remember when they use to be called radios?

Switch on and hear.

When television came of age, consumers waited for the tubes to warm up until they got a rudimentary picture. Finally, they could see and hear the broadcast signal at the same time.

Turn on and see.

But today’s consumers – especially the next generation – expects to click when they want to read, click when they want to hear and click when they want to see.

More and more they don’t have to even click, just touch the screen.

The focal point of today’s media has switched to versatility. In a world where consumers are listeners, viewers and readers all at once and at any time, traditional media has a problem.

What is to become of radio – it’s only aural?

Or TV – it’s visual with sound?

Or newspapers – well, they’re so lost they don’t know what they are?

The next generation is going to demand a picture, sound and even text from all of their information and entertainment sources. Meanwhile, back in radio, they think syndicating another national program is the future.

I believe that going forward there will still be a need and demand for listening separate and apart from viewing or reading, but there will also be increasing pressure to make media multi-functional on one device -- that is, the ability to get pictures, sound and text at the same time.

Radio companies should be thinking of ways to get into the video business. Radio stations are the greatest providers of content on the face of the earth in spite of the fact that consolidators are trying to kill off local talent. Why not provide listening, viewing and text?

Why not reinvent radio by knocking down the boundaries?

Radio and for that matter TV and print is marked for obsolescence. Sooner or later, there is no need to just listen without seeing or reading. What’s more, the new world in which we live demands social contact through networks of fans who demand to be in touch with each other.

As painful as it is for nostalgic and proud providers of content to see their future in a multi-functioning way, failure to assimilate these realities into future innovations will not be sufficient to create a growth industry.

Will radio one day die?

It already has. The consolidators are burying it each day.

Will TV be obsolete?

HD pictures should be enough to captivate any viewer but young people are less impressed. They would rather make their laptops convert to full screen picture and become the program director of their own TV viewing habits.

This need for the next generation to be part of their entertainment should not be taken lightly. You may argue with the importance, but there is no denying that this group of 80 million consumers now coming of age will be more proactive than past generations.

Broadcasting is declining in part because there is no need to broadcast a signal to everyone at the same time. When we do, we demand time delay capabilities such as recording TV programs for later viewing TiVo and DVRs.

Tomorrow opting in will be the operable words. The vast pool of content created now and archived from yesterday will be available at the pleasure of the new audience.

Drive time is now their time – not 5 to 10 in the morning as it is in radio today.

No need.

Podcasts – video podcasts with text as well – will be carried to the car or on public transit and content will be consumed when and where the audience wants. They’ll stop for a phone call. Check their texting. Like it or not, this is an element that must be factored in when looking ahead.

One important note is that attention spans are changing – content will have to be adjusted to meet the demand. And that good content will always be in demand whether it is on a computer or a traditional television.

If you could be Rip Van Winkle for seven years and wake up to the advanced music, video, radio and publishing media, you might be surprised to find that all have become one and one has become all.

And when you awaken, you might be more open to it – after seven years away from doing things the way they have always been done.

One thing is for sure, falling asleep for seven years is not recommended if you’re in the radio, records, television, mobile, Internet or publishing business.

Change comes rapidly.

Audiences are fickle.

And there’s lots of great content to make the business grow.

Now is the time to keenly observe the changing sociological trends that are shaking traditional media and embrace them.

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