The Future of Audio


(By Buzz Knight) Today, we begin a new series of interviews with industry thought leaders on The Future of Audio. First up Fred Jacobs, the founder of Jacobs Media. Fred is currently in the midst of some of his greatest and most important work with his research studies on the impact of Covid 19 on radio brands. Whenever I look for inspiration in challenging times or normalcy Fred always represents a guiding eye toward the future.

Fred Jacobs

Fred is not only the “Father of Classic Rock” but he is also a master strategist in any format type including and not limited to: Next Generation of Classic Rock,  Mainstream Rock, Active Rock, Alternative Rock, so asking him for a futurist look at formats is a natural place for us to go.

BK: Are there new formats you might see on the horizon?
FJ: I’d like to see new formats on the horizon, especially attempts to engage Gen Z-America’s youth. They may be more attached to their smartphones than any other gadget, but radio has access on iphones and Samsungs. It would be a worthwhile risk to take that fifth FM in the cluster and truly try something different.

BK-What will talent mean for radio stations in the future?
FJ:Talent is everything. We talk about people, and become attached to the really great ones on the airwaves. And now talent has the opportunity to provide different experiences, taking the audience “backstage” with podcasts, videos and cameras in the studio. Many of the great DJs and hosts from the past would have embraced these new tools that build their brands and strengthen their connections with the audience.

BK-If autonomy becomes available what will it mean to the future of radio?
FJ-At CES this year, we saw one vehicle after another with the equivalent of video screen(s) in the traditional dashboard space. For now, the “passenger economy” is being served, allowing those who aren’t driving to enjoy visual entertainment. And as autonomous cars become more advanced, the options to “drivers” are even more diverse. For radio, it means stations are competing against a myriad of entertainment sources. So, the smart money is on focusing on local and personalities-two key elements consumers cannot get elsewhere.

Buzz Knight is the CEO of Buzz Knight Media and can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]



  1. I think at least one of the reasons why radio has not engaged the next generation (ie: my 20 year old children) is because many stations still run X minutes music/content followed by 5 minute spot blocks… rinse and repeat. Very little creativity and predictable.

    The next (and arguably many of the current) generation of radio listeners want content – whether that be music/talk/personalities AND they want it when they feel like listening.

    If they switch on live radio and hit a 5 minute spot block that’s a turn off and they remember that.

    Many ads (especially in “these challenging times” grrrr) are just awful. Corporate after corporate phoning in the same script with a similar tag line makes for listening misery.

    I believe we need to become much more clever and truly integrate advertiser messages into content so listeners end up hearing the message – even better if they hear a live read from their fav personality.

    Live and local radio has the best opportunity to do this right now and there’s a captive audience.

    I enjoy reading your articles BK.


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