Smulyan Worried About Radio’s Place In The Car


At the Radio Ink Hispanic Conference, Wednesday, Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan told the sold-out crowd in Miami that the car of the future will have an embedded tuner that may appear to the driver as a simple screen of apps. His question is: Will radio be there?

Smulyan said radio cannot be on the fifth page of apps. “We have to be on that first page and NextRadio is the driver to get us there.” Smulyan says NextRadio is working with the auto manufacturers to help make sure radio remains relevant in the automobile of the future. “When the car of the future comes out, if you are not there (on that first page), you will be forgotten. We have to compete in the world that is out there.”

Smulyan said a big part of competing is to make sure your radio station provides the same visuals listeners are getting from the pure play streamers such as Spotify and Pandora. NextRadio and Tagstation provide those visuals, along with data and analytics that advertisers are looking for. Tagstation can cost as little as $10 per month for stations. Smulyan seemed surprised that more people in attendance were not familiar with TagStation. He said he’s never seen as much support for an industry initiative as he has for NextRadio but he worries if the coporate executives who are supporting his efforts are passing it down to the rank land file, especially the programmers. He admitted that some of radio’s big companies are dealing with problems of their own these days, and perhaps that’s playing a role in why important initiatives like NextRadio and TagStation are not trickling down to the station level. He even offered attendees TagStation free for six months if they spoke to him after his presentation.


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