Tech vs. Deregulation, Why Is Radio Dying?

If you work in radio, read anything about radio, or if you are one of the few people who still listens to the radio, you probably know the future of radio is unclear. There are many arguments as to why the radio industry is failing. Many attribute it to the “deregulation”, which started in the 80’s and continued in the 90’s. Others, like myself, tend to blame new technology; and there are some who blame both.

I would actually side with the theory that deregulation is to blame for the current state of the radio industry, if not for one little issue: it’s happening in every medium. It’s not just radio that has been wobbled by the rise of technology. The internet and computers have changed everything for every medium and that has allowed for more freedom than ever before. Radio, the recording industry, record distributors, software distributors, the book industry and their distributors, newspapers and even television are feeling it.

As the popularity of blogs rise, some people get scared because there’s so much freedom when it comes to information distribution, but I tend to feel pretty good about it. These days newspapers lack the clout they once had and no longer are they totally reliable when it comes to lack of bias – much of the news is designed for nothing more than selling advertisements. The fact is that yellow journalism is the norm and bias that in the past was close to nonexistent or fairly well covered up, is prevalent. Am I afraid of that bias? No not really because when all is said and done facts are facts and the reliable sources will be just that, reliable. Any bad and unreliable source will be regarded as unusable and will either fade from existance, go even further into weird land, or try to clean up their act.

The same concept applies when it comes to the recording and record distribution industry. Record execs are scared because any kid can download Audacity (a completely free audio recording program), or buy ProTools and go to work. The internet is key to distributing music and allowing people to listen to music. No longer is having an actual CD important. And no longer is being signed the “be all end all” of being in a band, in some cases it hurts bands and depletes their following if they are signed to a major label. Now, bands tend to create their own label or join a label with other local bands they are associated with. Do It Yourself (DIY) bands have been around for decades, but now the bar has been lowered and the big boys and the little guys are nearly at the same level as far as potential to distribute goes.

The same goes for the radio industry. The emergence of the iPod has changed everything and the music side of radio is hurting. There are many alternatives to radio with sites like Pandora, Last FM and even MySpace, which all allow free access to music. And in what seems like an attempt to kick’em while their down, congress wants to pass new music taxes that would effect both music and talk radio.

While I believe talk radio has more staying power, it too is down for the count. As podcasting becomes prevalent and “on demand” media is the norm, advertising agencies and radio stations are in a tizzy because they don’t know how to respond. No longer is the listener on the station’s time, the listener is calling the shots. And as technology increases and it takes fewer employees to operate a station, voice talent for small cities is being outsourced to larger cities. The disk jockey of the past is old hat. So while I don’t think radio as a whole will die, radio as we know it will definitely be gone.

So what will happen in the future? Advertising agencies will have to find new ways to attack this market. Some already know the answer – take Hulu for example, you get a free television show or movie if you can endure about four 15 second ads per show. 15 seconds is tolerable but the 30 and 60 second spots of the past are slowly becoming obsolete. As attention spans shrink in America and around the world companies must adapt. Technology has changed everything and I am willing to bet that when we finally think we’ve got this thing figured out, technology will rear its head and companies will have to start from square one once again.

Read this and more articles like it plus a whole lot more at Internet Radio Magazine.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: