Worldwide Radio Summit Panel On Radio's Future Touts Radio's Present, Too
April 29, 2011 at 10:55 AM (PT)
The WORLDWIDE RADIO SUMMIT got underway FRIDAY morning in front of a sold-out room and worldwide streaming with MARK RAMSEY anchoring a keynote panel looking at the future of radio. The event featured LEE ABRAMS, CUMULUS' JOHN DICKEY, CLEAR CHANNEL RADIO COO Digital GERRIT MEIER, TUNEIN RADIO CEO BILL MOORE, and TRITON MEDIA GROUP COO MIKE AGOVINO discussing the challenges and opportunities for radio in the digital age. To see a replay of the broadcast, just click here.
DICKEY said that CUMULUS is "excited" about the company's transformation with the CITADEL purchase into a larger operation in more major markets with a radio network, adding that the deal presents an "opportunity, through scale and through size, to innovate... and put some serious thought and capital into our business." He said radio has "fallen behind" in sales on a business-to-business level and in its approach to selling, and has become "a medium that has been in a catching position more than a pitching position" in sales, allowing others to price it.
...Terrestrial radio is alive and well. It's a fabulous business.
ABRAMS, on the other hand, asserted that "if the excitement is all about deals, our listeners could care less." He described hearing a new Classic Rock station doing old radio things like "Star Wars" production and "Two-fer TUESDAYS" and promoting its station van ("In 1972, the van was cool. Now, people who drive vans are your neighbors, who are not cool") and gave a list of his prescriptions for bringing radio into the new era. "American media kind of sucks," he said, stressing the need to jettison dated programming and developing "content stars." "Phone companies are beating radio in innovation," ABRAMS added, advising that merely putting current content on an app "will not make a bad station better."
"The new rock 'n' roll is media and innovation," ABRAMS said. "FACEBOOK is the new ELVIS. The thing that isn't dead ... is the rock 'n' roll style of thinking," he added, describing the latter as creative, eccentric, rebellious, mass-appeal, intelligent, and eccentric ideas. He later lamented how local radio stations, once sounding unique to their markets, are no longer distinctive. "More effort has to be made at being really local ... it's being glossed over," he said.
MEIER warned that looking towards the future runs the risk of "ignoring the present." He said that his company's process has been to make digital a natural extension of its broadcasting business, first by streaming and websites. He highlighted the emphasis on local programming, noting that other companies are spending a lot of money trying to get into local while radio is already there.
AGOVINO said that TRITON's Webcast Metrics measurement shows an increase in Average Active Sessions of 352,583 in the past year, about the same size as total market listening for DENVER. Overall online listening is now about 5-6% of terrestrial listening, and while Time Spent Listening is lower online, AGOVINO said he expects that number to grow as online listening becomes easier. He also showed a chart of consumption of LOS ANGELES streaming that indicated 62% coming from outside the market and 38% being local, which he said means that simulcasting ads is "not a strategy." An additional slide showed that if PANDORA was a LOS ANGELES radio station, it would rank 11th in billing, but RAMSEY noted that the company collects much more information about who its listeners are and what they do.
MEIER followed up by noting that "our terrestrial business is still very, very good business" but that the revenues are "relatively small and will remain relatively small." He said the value is in the "halo effect" on terrestrial operations, adding a value proposition for advertisers. DICKEY heartily agreed, saying, "terrestrial radio is alive and well. It's a fabulous business," noting that nobody was talking about PANDORA's service in the wake of the tornado disaster in ALABAMA. MEIER also asserted that PANDORA "is not radio -- it wants to be radio." He noted that PANDORA and SLACKER have features people want, and that radio has an opportunity to adopt similar features and take advantage of them. AGOVINO added that it should not be assumed that PANDORA's audience came from terrestrial radio listeners.
LISTENER DRIVEN RADIO's DANIEL ANSTANDIG opened the proceedings with a presentation about his company, asking participants how radio would be different if it was invented after, rather than before, new media and showing how his company incorporates "crowdcasting" and listener participation in programming music.
To see a replay of the broadcast, just click here.