Radio is Not Dead. Here’s Why.


(By Bob McCurdy) Last week, executives at the 2017 Life and Death Symposium reported that everything, with the exception of mobile, social, Amazon, and Google are now officially deceased:
-Magazines are dead
-The healthcare bill is dead
-Newspapers are dead
-Retail is dead
-The Grateful are dead
-TV is dead
-Paul is dead
-The walking are dead
-Radio is dead

The above is obviously tongue-in-cheek, but such a headline might not be as far-fetched as it might seem. Billboard magazine, in 1952, declared, “Radio is Dead….With the Lone Ranger and Jack Benny Gone to TV, Bye-Bye Radio,” while Wired magazine also had a similar headline in 2005 on their cover that declared, “The End of Radio as We Know It.”

Unlike the 1979 song, “Video Killed the Radio Star,” the radio medium did not die and remains quite popular, with the same percentage of the population listening in 2017 as 1970. Interestingly, the New York Daily News’ David Hinckley recognized this three decades later when on February 24, 2010 he wrote, “When MTV formally acknowledged the obvious – that it is no longer a music channel – it was also symbolically acknowledging that video did not kill the radio star.”

Headlines and articles today, as in the past, often reflect the opinions of bloggers, companies, or consultants with a vested financial interest in promoting the subject about which they are writing and are often published by publications that haven’t done the necessary due diligence or are just want an eye-catching headline.

Based on the accuracy of these headlines/articles, though, it might be a good idea to have them accompanied with a “health” warning disclaimer, indicating they could be dangerous to a business’ continued fiscal prosperity if blindly accepted.

In light of the “skewed” headlines/articles that appear in the trades daily, it is incumbent upon us to not only continue to enhance our marketing acumen and sales skills, but to nurture a characteristic that is as important to our success as any other, and that is “grit.” The ability to keep on keeping on in the face of adversity.

Winston Churchill once described success as, “Walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” The tenacity to face down adversity and triumph. That is grit. Hall of Fame basketball coach Pat Riley has often said, “I can get knocked down five times but I will get up six times.” That is grit.

There was a terrific article in the Wall Street Journal last Saturday that focused on grit written by Angela Lee Duckworth. Angela is a professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and is the author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. In the article, she talks about grit and the role it plays in success. She also devised a “grit” scale, which you can access HERE.

Grit is the ability to forego immediate gratification while pursuing long-term goals with passion and persistence regardless of obstacles. Chances are, every truly great sale or accomplishment any of us have ever closed or achieved was due in large part to grit.

Today, we must be our own “cause” to correct the misperceptions that exist about the radio medium due in part to misguided headlines/articles. As many of those writers have discovered, it is easy to be a prognosticator but it is difficult to be correct. Working with clients to ensure that they have a firm understanding of the media landscape, as it exists today, not as depicted, requires grit.

It is our attitude, not our aptitude, that determines our altitude and our attitude.

We all should strive to possess the marketing acumen of a senior advertising executive, the resilience of Rocky Balboa, the sales skills of Zig Ziglar, and the grit of John Wayne’s and Jeff Bridges’ Rooster Cogburn.

Bob McCurdy is the Vice President of Sales for the Beasley Media Group and can be reached at [email protected]


  1. Bob is right. Radio didn’t die when Jack Benny and the Lone Ranger went to TV. Why? Radio invented some exciting NEW formats…talk radio….top 40 radio…etc.
    I once worked with a programming consultant who said he could predict how a station’s ratings were going to do by simply picking up the phone and asking the P.D., “What’s new?” If the P.D. said they were doing same-old same-old, and was not excited about a new intiative, their next book was about to suck.
    And we all know how powerful the word ‘new’ is in marketing.
    So the question is “What’s radio going to do that’s ‘new’….as the saying goes, “What ever got you where you are today, won’t be neough to get you where you want to be tomorrow.”

  2. Bob does, on a regular basis, provide materials that demonstrate how radio is a viable medium that has, nevertheless, fallen into disrepute through a number of equally dynamic, internally-generated behaviors, and advertiser perceptions.
    Because of radio’s refusal to provide superior products and services, it is left with no alternative but to conduct marketing campaigns – “telling the story”.
    Even though “the story” has value, I submit the “story” won’t be enough to get back on the highway.
    Plus, the bigger tale that will get the most coverage is the one where thousands of stations will either go dark or become literaly anemic – and for all the known and (sometimes) unknown reasons.
    It will be similar to thrashing around with those post-election blues.
    (“How the hell did THAT happen!?”)

  3. Sorry but I have to disagree. Stick a fork in it, Radio is dead. You guys have cooked and eaten what was once the “Golden Goose”. The two largest license holders are reportedly headed toward bankruptcy. And I keep hearing “dollar a holler” a phrase I recall from back in the 60’s. Amazingly stupid. And for the record, the business you’re in now isn’t what I would call Radio. I don’t know what it is, but it’s NOT Radio.


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