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Separate Radio from Digital

Tomorrow Media

tim_biopicBy Tim Moore


There are a plethora of theories on how to choreograph digital with conventional radio. Most of them are wrong. From one of our favorite futurists Jerry Del Colliano comes this shared outlook.

Ignore it if you dare.

Separate Radio From Digital

Seth Godin recently wrote that there is a productivity gap with all the apps, software and digital devices we have available.

He asks: “Are you more productive? How much more might you be?”

Godin cites the work of the prolific author Isaac Asimov who wrote over 400 books on a manual typewriter adding “I find it hard to imagine they would have helped him write 400 more”.

This gets me to thinking that the problem the radio industry has is that it seems like it wants to be digital and not broadcasting.

When radio stations give away their “streams”, they devalue the value of their on-air stations.

Streaming on-air radio is a cheap idea from consolidators. Even mom and pops wouldn’t have come up with that lame idea.

How much better is radio today – if at all – with its ability to voice track, do local news from regional hubs, sell advertising directly without the relationships of live, local account execs?

Digital is not a format.

It’s not really an industry.

It’s a technology.

We make the programming.

We entertain and inform audiences. We are fools to think clicks and likes have anything at all to do with our business.

That’s another business – and yes, we need to be in that one too – separately.

That’s why my upcoming Philly conference will focus on rethinking our mission:

• To do the best on-air programming radio has ever done (unfortunately, it is the worst which is why the entire next generation is not attracted to radio).

• To develop a second, separate and simultaneous stream of revenue from digital initiatives that represent more than just “Twitter”, “Facebook”, apps or streaming.

In other words, I’m here to tell you as a professor and proponent of generational media that trying to make the radio industry what it isn’t and never will be is not the answer.

Make it what it can be – a source of excellent, local programming.

Here’s a stunner.

In 2014, smaller, better-run, locally focused radio groups could do this and beat the pants off venture bank-owned radio groups who are frankly a blight on the radio industry through “worst practices” and lack of vision.

The path to resurrection is through local stations that understand the fundamental difference between radio and digital.

Radio must excel at both and but they are not the same thing.

I’ve whittled it down to the 7 critical areas that will make all the difference in the world to operators and to entrepreneurs wanting to start some new initiatives in digital content that has a chance of really taking off.

1. How to really disrupt radio and the damage what has been done for over a decade by consolidators. Smart format changes will not be enough – too little, too late. This requires bold thought and swift action. Digital competitors are not all that great but they are stealing local radio buys. Here’s how to really disrupt radio and get the momentum back. Everything is on the table when we talk disrupting radio.

2. Master digital as a second revenue source. Separate radio from digital because it is not working and never will. Two sources of revenue, radio and new media will.

3. Forge into social media in a new way. Facebook is over, Twitter is not realizing its potential and there is a better way to use social media that you create to build revenue positive cash streams.

Social media is not an add on. It’s a separate business.

4. Reinvent radio on every level. Nothing is the same in our world today but radio. And it’s stripped down and threadbare from what we were raised on. This turnaround requires an aggressive and positive plan to focus on a handful of things that will make all the difference.

5. Get into short-form video yesterday! Maybe the advantage of being late to the race is that we now have strong evidence of what works and what doesn’t. I have promised to show you how entrepreneurs with less experience than radio execs are making millions a year from a 5-minute weekly video. No commercials, no banner ads, no product placement and no subscription fees.

The money is coming from something we have not thought of previously – and you’ll see it and learn how.

6. Attract Millennials. The new number is 95 million Millennials coming of age. They are different and they won’t go for what passes as radio today. But they have a sweet spot that you must know. We’ll make this part of the discussion.

7. Time shift radio. If consumers are screaming anything at us, it is to time shift our content. You need to be among the first to learn how.

Jerry’s pithy monograph comes closest to Audience Development Group’s point of view. We’re still in uncharted water if for no other reason than we’re not clairvoyant as to the next technology innovation. Things are moving very fast—too fast for some—but it’s a simple proposition: there are two kinds of people in media today…those who know and those who don’t.