An Open Letter To The Radio Industry


(By Andrew Curran) The last 12 months have seen a variety of significant milestones in and around AM/FM radio.

Some of the most notable events include:

• iHeart is in the process of massively cutting its debt as it navigates bankruptcy.
• Entercom closed on its acquisition of CBS Radio.
• Cumulus emerged from bankruptcy.
• Nielsen has included radio data in advertiser planning tools including Local Media Impact, a cross-platform resource.
• P&G, the world’s largest advertiser, rediscovered the power of radio to sell its premium consumer products to our employed listeners.

The magnitude of these changes, both individually and collectively, is difficult to fully quantify at the moment, but the significance will be felt for years to come.

Each one serves to enhance the vibrancy and strength of AM/FM radio, the 800-pound gorilla of audio.

Meanwhile on the digital audio side:

• Amazon eliminated its investment in original podcasting on the Audible platform.
• Pandora, once believed to be a “radio killer,” has seen Spotify overtake its lead for Average Active Sessions.

In fact, “winning” the streaming battle is proving to be a hollow victory. As revenues have grown for both platforms, so have the losses, while spot revenue for AM/FM continues to put billions to the bottom line nationwide.


Spotify has lost nearly $2 billion and Pandora has lost more than $1 billion in recent years. For its part, when talking about Apple Music, CEO Tim Cook says, “we’re not in it for the money.” Meanwhile AM/FM spot revenue puts billions to the bottom line nationwide.

In a recent Fast Company article, Cook continues, “Music inspires, it motivates. It’s also the thing at night that helps quiet me. I think it’s better than any medicine.”

With a perspective like that, it’s not much of a surprise that Apple has long been critical of platforms using algorithms to select the music. As their CEO says, “We worry about the humanity being drained out of music, about it becoming a bits-and-bytes kind of world instead of the art and craft.” The “art and craft” of song selection sounds very much like a tip of the hat to radio programmers, from the head of the first U.S.-based trillion-dollar company, nonetheless.

As we embark upon another Labor Day weekend (the unofficial holiday for radio’s core, employed listeners), there’s ample reason for those working in and around radio to appreciate the current wind at our backs.

Let’s use this momentum to enhance our core business model and push even harder to drive overall growth for our industry to $20 billion by 2022 (#20×22) as we continue to serve our local communities.

On behalf of Catherine Jung, Doug Smith and everyone here at DMR/Interactive, thanks for working to drive radio forward.

Happy Labor Day!

Andrew Curran is the President and COO of DMR/Interactive.


  1. Note to Dave:
    Certainly, Dave, I also applaud anyone in radio who is making valiant attempts to interrupt the slide – and sliding it is – and get the medium back on course.
    But, radio (generally and with few exceptions) has abdicated its responsibility to its audiences and its advertisers.
    Without faulting others, circumstances and confused, cynical corporate ownerships, any justifications for the lack of appropriate and useful behaviours for massive improvements lies flatter than piss on a plate.

  2. Nice to see that P and G has learned what many others should – and we hope will. Where I grew up we had 6 AM radio stations and 4 TV stations by the time I started in the business. There wasn’t much else to listen to or view. In 2018 there are thousands of video channels and even more audio choices. Radio continues to thrive in spite of cost cutting, job (and station) consolidation and all of those other things that make people look down on the broadcast media. Ronald – you’re falling in line with some of the other naysayers. Yes radio has issues -but some companies are trying to fix their issues one at a time. We didn’t get into this fix overnight and it won’t be fixed overnight. I’ve read two articles recently that champion our cause-one from Lisa Thal (“Rally for Radio”) and Radio One former VP Jay Stevens. There are still brilliant people who love the industry and carry the lights needed to bring it back around. With more competition than ever before, it can only make us better.

  3. Are we then, encouraged to accept that because of the poor performance of other related media, radio gets a Mulligan?
    Given that, I guess radio can set aside its responsibilities to audiences and advertisers and continue skipping on down the yellow brick road with a cheery, cheery song on its lips.
    What a spectacularly superficial set of justifications.
    But then, there’s a lot of that being slathered around.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here