New Years Resolutions For Radio


(By Mike McVay) It’s the last Monday of the year. Normally, as one-year ends, we’re excited for the next. “Next” and “New” sounds hopeful, fresh, exciting and fosters hope. We make New Year’s Resolutions, which are often broken or forgotten by mid-January, but we make them. My resolution last year was to create a better work/life balance for myself and my family. I need to work on that.

When 2020 was wrapping up, we were all excited because we’d lived through something that none of us had ever faced. The global pandemic, the first in over 100 years, brought death, the fear of death, the loss of jobs, economic crisis, never-before-poor families waiting in food lines, businesses closing, home schooling, work from home and political and social unrest.

Despite all of that, having spent 9 months in some form of quarantine, there was excitement, as there were rumors of a vaccine, children were back in-class in some communities, much of the lifestyle we were used to was starting to return. We were able to get haircuts, doctor appointments, dine outdoor and cautiously see friends … distanced by six feet … wearing masks. We were hopeful about 2021.

You would be hard pressed to find someone who isn’t thrilled that 2021 is about to be behind us. The words “Happy New Year” mean more to many of us this year as we move beyond the continuation of nearly two years of loss. Just as the skies started to brighten with the vaccine, the Delta variant arrived. It wanes and Omicron arrives. We can only hope and pray that 2022 will see the end of the pandemic, but no expert (medical or scientific) is brave enough to say.

Beyond the personal losses, there is the loss of audience and the loss of the time that the audience previously spent listening to the radio. It’s always easier to keep the audience you have than to attract an audience that you do not have. Despite seeing time spent listening increase, overall listening remains lower than pre-pandemic.

Traffic on the roads is critical to radio use. An active and mobile audience is important. Traffic will increase as more people return to the workplace, and the number of employees who WFH (Work from Home) decreases, but it’s highly unlikely that all businesses will bring employees back to the workplace. Radio needs to be everywhere and heard everywhere. On-Air, Online, Smart Speakers, on-demand via podcasts and social media.

We’re hearing of businesses, beyond radio, where sales teams are encouraged to work remotely. Beyond being in-house for a once-a-week sales meeting, allowing sellers to start their workday direct to prospects, is more efficient. It also allows for a reimagination of the space needed for workspace and building leases.

It’s arguable that all listening is being captured by the rating and research companies, given the multiple platforms where one can now hear a radio station, and its ignorance to think that increased competition from all forms of medium isn’t impacting the ability of all platforms to reach dominance. Time spent listening isn’t going to grow dramatically unless dramatic changes take place to improve the listening experience.

What we also know is that radio needs to take a print or digital media type approach to measuring one’s audience. The comparison of those two entities is extreme from one another. You have “old media” which is print. You have “new media” which is digital. They both measure by circulation or impressions. When you read a newspaper, even on-line, it’s unknown how much time you spend reading the articles. It’s not known how many ads you see unless you click on one. The same with digital. Radio needs to move to an impressions model akin to how SiriusXM sells advertising or sponsorships. They never share their ratings. Only overall subscriptions.

Pricing has already begun to take that approach. Circulation, or website traffic, decreases. Ad prices maintain or even increase. It’s about the real estate. The three L’s; location-location-location. It’s always been about results. Radio, audio if you will, moves an audience. We sell products, services, generate leads and market products while building brands. We create positive results. We sell results. We need to scream those results from the rooftops.

New Year’s Resolutions for Radio:

  • Spend less time worrying about whether you call it radio or audio. More time on entertaining and informing an audience.
  • Strive to improve the listening experience for the audience.
  • Acknowledge that the level of competition is great and will become even greater.
  • Strategize how to shift to an impression-based model for measurement.
  • Reprice the product using a results-oriented metric versus a CPM.
  • Have Fun! It seems as if we’ve forgotten that being involved in and around media is so much better than what many of our parents did for a living. Make a resolution to enjoy what you do … or do something else that is fun. We all deserve than and more.

Happy New Year to You and Yours!


Mike McVay is President of McVay Media and can be reached at [email protected]


  1. All day? The clocks are the same. Listen to one hour. Radio is predictable and totally scripted. Old, fat guys pretending to know what the audience wants.

  2. All PDs should be forced to sit alone in a room all day and critically evaluate their station – including the spot breaks.
    It’s unlistenable.

    • And, I would add how REALLY unlistenable their streams are, whether on smart speakers or mobile devices. You can tell that most PDs put forth very little attention and diligence to the programming on those channels. The two worst examples to me are the same spot or PSA running as many times in a row as it takes to fill out the stop set; and stop sets that either keep running into the restart of the programming or start running while the programming is still running. These are glaring and inexcusable derelictions of duty with both talk and music formats.

      If the PDs don’t want to properly run their streaming signals, then they should just not offer them. Dedicated streaming services like Spotify that offer free service offset by spot ads do not sound sloppy and unprofessional like the broadcasters who stream.

      Get with it, PDs…or GET OUT!


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