Radio Industry Needs To Supply Radios


(By Julie Chadwick) I recently visited a very busy bookstore chain (which ironically was supposed to be obsolete by 2019) and was pleasantly surprised to see a whole area of the store dedicated to vinyl records and portable record players. I quickly took my 16-year-old daughter over there and showed her why vinyl was so fun – the artwork! The inside scoop! The B-sides! All of those hidden gems the jacket of the record provides that aren’t translatable digitally.

My daughter loved it!

For the consumer, the attraction to vinyl lies in the story telling found on the album jacket. You discover stories about the music; you’ll be able to see which song inspires the album cover artwork, see various photos of the band, as well as other narratives that make it personal.

Radio can be personal too. It’s our ability to interact with our listeners. We have the ability to insert ourselves into our audience’s daily lives. We provide entertainment and inspiration to them through our live morning shows, our text line music requests, our promotional giveaways and more.

As the digital director at Sheridan Media, I have no illusions about the trajectory of listening device options. Our radio stations need to be streamed, and we need to be on apps where we can be downloaded, where we are readily available on phones and computers. And yet….we DO sell radios.

At Sheridan Media we successfully sell radios through our online auction platform and have done so for at least 3 years. We’ve sold over 60 Sangean Radios we purchase from our Sangean supplier. We could have sold more, but we haven’t made keeping them in-stock a priority, so months go by before we have them in-stock again. We’ve also given countless radios away – along with more than a few Echo Dots.

Radio has evolved. The radios we sell on our auction platform aren’t “just” radios. They’re like the Swiss Army Knife of radios: they have solar charging capabilities AND a hand crank, essentially making batteries optional.

The radio also comes equipped with a small flashlight, flare lights, and a phone charger. For outdoor enthusiasts such as campers, hikers, bikers and hunters this provides additional value. Weather changes quickly, and it’s important to know that you can tune in to your radio to get up to date weather, from local sources, especially if you’re in the wilderness.

We also make sure the potential purchaser knows they can still be entertained while they’re camping, fishing, and hiking by our outstanding local morning show hosts and stay informed about local sports and promotions we’re currently running. We also talk about our local podcasts (see the common denominator here?).

As an employee-owned radio group we know we have to be more than a radio station cluster. We have to be flexible in our vision and continue to find platforms to find new listeners. But who knows…maybe one day I’ll visit another big book store chain and be pleasantly surprised by an area of the store dedicated entirely to boom boxes and portable radios.

Julie Chadwick is Digital Marketing Director of Sheridan Media in Sheridan, Wyoming. The company operates 10 Radio Stations, Two Websites, A Print Publication and a complete Digital Division. Contact: [email protected]


  1. We are a very small market AM standalone, a town of about 2000 in Northern South Dakota. We purchased the station, which for many years was left for dead and just began to do some local programming prior to our purchase. We put a studio on Main Street and run local live on air from 6 to 6 and local high school sports all year in the evenings. It’s no “gold mine” but it’s building and paying its own way.We have installed a radio link with the county EMA so in the event of a disaster, they can use the AM station 24/7 if need be. The job though is to convince people they need to own a radio. In a disaster, cell phones are useless even if the sites stay up due to congestion, we have no immediate local television which if AC power goes down is useless along with the internet. People have forgotten about plain old “reliable” broadcast radio and we are doing what needs to be done to remind them. AM radio will survive if and only if companies pay attention to what it will do that the internet, television ,and satellite radio can’t do.

  2. “Hand cranks” or “if you’re in the wilderness”… My God, I really though this was a joke, at first. All of this because of one visit to a bookstore? Embarrassing, but then again look at the context: Sheridan, Wyoming. I’m not bashing small towns, but they are rarely the barometer for an “Industry”… and, you’ve sold 60 radios? I mean, 60? a “radio” is a noun. It’s a thing. Go into a Wal-Mart and look for a radio, there’s like 3 and they’re all marketed for emergency purposes.

  3. We don’t have a distribution problem. We have a product problem. Focus on how radio can engage people with entertaining content. Cut the spot loads, touch listeners with real people rather than hype and noise. Figure out what’s missing in your community when it comes to information. If we got the government to send a radio to every household, it would make little difference.

  4. In fact, a lot of the really good radios and hi-fi receivers of the past do at times command collector prices when sold online.

  5. This is a quaint, well-intentioned idea. But unfortunately not at realistic. There is virtually zero consumer interest in buying AM/FM radios. If there was demand, you can bet that the big retailers like Best Buy, Target and others would have large display areas for radios. Consumers now get their audio content on their phones. It is up to each audio content provider – including radio station companies – to create compelling unique content, to compete on the phone platform. And, voice tracking plus intolerably long commercial cluster breaks are the exact opposite of compelling unique content. Realizing that, is Step 1 towards staying relevant.

  6. A few years ago, this very web site RadioInk got into the business of selling HD Radios. I’d be curious how successful that endeavor was, and might it be useful for the NAB to get into the business of selling radios. We’re obviously at a point where radio manufacturers aren’t developing exciting new products anymore. They leave it to companies such as Amazon to develop the Echo.

  7. How can you lift the enormously broad brush you’re painting radio with? Wow.
    I will agree that there are radio companies that are becoming irrelevant, but they’ve done that to themselves. The rest of us are live and local and doing just fine, thanks.

  8. I think it interesting and sad that as she is describing reasons to have a radio, the only reason she gives for the on-air service is being entertained by the “our outstanding local morning show hosts.” There is no mention of the rest of the programming as if it doesn’t matter. Unfortunately, this is true at many radio stations today and maybe a bigger reason people turn elsewhere for entertainment, information, etc. More than technology or platform Radio’s indifference to good local programming maybe the cause of the media becoming irrelevant.


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