Why No Radio On the iPad

Steve Jobs just made it easier for iPhone users to multitask on their cell phones with an announcement regarding upcoming changes to the new iPhone operating system.

Phone users have been begging for multitasking capability on their iPhones. Apple offers some multitasking but it has been limited to a few Apple applications.

The new iPad -- introduced over a month ago -- was announced with the old operating system that does not allow non-Apple multitasking.

Perhaps the bigger news out of the Jobs event was the introduction of ad serving (iAds) that Apple will use to give Google a run for mobile advertising money.

You don't get Jobs pissed off.

When Adobe did it, he removed Flash from his iPhone plans and you'll note that Flash does not work on the new iPad.

That's not fair.




But somehow Jobs gets away with it.

When Eric Schmidt turned on Jobs (Schmidt runs Google and was on the Apple board of directors), Jobs plotted revenge. Schmidt wanted a piece of the mobile phone business and went from partner to competitor with the Android.

Result: iAds -- Apple's revenge against Google.

At least when Jobs acts with revenge, he's intelligent if not mean. When the three blind mice of radio consolidation are vengeful, they kind of act like dummies.

One reader wrote to me yesterday that he has heard Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey brag that Cumulus is going to buy Citadel. Well, I've heard that one so many times it's laughable. Dickey is apparently delusional.

He'd be lucky to buy Regent (and I don't think he will).

Now just why would Farid Suleman or his investors want to sell to Dickey when the radio business is supposedly looking at a recovery?

Suleman has a new deal to stay on and continue to continue the same level of excellence that forced Citadel into bankruptcy.

Which brings me to the real issue which is -- why are radio CEOs so obsessed with yesterday and not tomorrow?

Buying up bankrupt radio groups, stations in distress, turning the industry into one big radio national network. That's yesterday.

Every time Steve Jobs opens his mouth, another piece of well thought out strategy is revealed. Usually -- almost always -- Apple prevails and advances its fortunes.

It is not an accident that built-in radio capability is not included in most Apple products and in the Touch, where it is featured, the radio feature has laid an egg.

This is not to say that radio is bad.

It's more complicated than that.

Radio broadcasting -- you know, 24/7 -- is not necessary in an on-demand world. I'm not telling you that -- consumers are. Even Pandora is consumed differently than broadcast radio. It is not a turn it on until you can't listen anymore experience.

Perhaps with multitasking readily available this will change.

But I doubt it.

I'm giving Steve Jobs the benefit on this one. He'd put a radio smack in the middle of every device he built if it would sell his products. (Please re-read that last sentence).

It might be nice to have radio playing in the background while you are using apps, but you can have music to your liking now if that's what you really want. No need for repeater radio on a cool device like an iPhone or iPad.

My friends who run the radio industry are so used to being a monopoly that they can't fathom that broadcasting doesn't really fit into an iPhone or iPad. The much heralded iPod Touch got radio capability added and the happy talkers in the broadcasting industry saw this as the most important event since Marconi.

But my theory was tested again -- in an on-demand world consumers want content ...

... when they want it ...

... for as long as they want ...

... and they want to have the ability to hear it, see it or read it.

That is not the current definition of radio.

So, the next time you read about analysts projecting radio revenue up a whopping one or two percent next year, stop and think what it could really be if radio CEOs actually studied the real revolution taking place -- that of and by the consumer.

You see, radio thinks of all new media as non-traditional revenue. And that's the problem.

Sure, adding interactivity to radio can bring you a mobile sponsor, a banner ad or even an application patron but that's not the growth industry I see ahead.

Interactive, new media is not non-traditional radio revenue.

It is a separate industry of Internet content, social networking, mobile content that will be monetized by event marketing, subscriptions and mobile advertising.

Or to put it in a more dramatic way --

While Cumulus CEO Lew "Tricky" Dickey is off bragging about $500 million he hasn't raised yet with Crestview purportedly to acquire stations that aren't for sale in a market that doesn't have loan money available for rates higher than a loan shark would offer them, you see why only Steve Jobs is channeling reality.

In the end, it will not matter if radio is ever enjoyed on a mobile device as a broadcast medium.

What does matter is that content created and marketed by radio talent and radio companies becomes part of the mobile Internet that our good friend Mr. Jobs is rapidly moving into already.

Can you begin to see that we're not insulting your mother when we say mobile users don't need 24/7 radio?

The mobile Internet is the future of radio or else there is no growth business for the industry.

And, again ironically, while radio companies ineptly try to add interactive non-traditional revenue to broadcast radio and then foist it upon mobile users, they are hurting the industry we call radio.

Let me be clear.

Firing personalities, creative program directors, managers, sales professionals and support staff to save money is the exact worst thing radio CEOs can do. Make good radio for people who still want to listen to radio.

That's what NPR does.

That's what KCRW does.

That's what many small and medium market local operators do.

But don't stop there.

A separate new business is the mobile Internet and it's not the same as radio.

Just because Dickey, Fagreed Suleman, John Slogan Hogan and their admirers don't get it is no reason why medium and small groups can't see the future.

The consumer always tells you your next move.

Not the three blind mice of radio.


Dr George Pollard interviewed me recently for Grub. It's a long interview that covers everything from my relationship with Clear Channel to how I see the future. If you're interested, here's the link.

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