During a fireside chat with Townsquare executive Kurt Johnson at the Country Radio Seminar Tuesday, NAB CEO Curtis LeGeyt addressed the many issues facing broadcasters today, including a performance rights tax, radio’s place in the automobile dashboard, recruiting radio talent, and the recent stories of AM Radio being removed from electric cars.
LeGeyt said that AM radio still touches 47 million people every week (according to Nielsen) and streaming services would bend over backward to achieve those numbers. “It’s short-sighted for the automotive industry to consider dropping AM Radio but the industry needs to do a better job of speaking with a unified voice.”
LeGeyt touted radio’s ability to serve its communities during times of disasters and said Washington cares about this issue. He doesn’t believe the automotive industry can afford to have a moment challenging public safety and added that the auto industry is highly regulated by Congress. “I’m confident radio will remain a staple in the car”, LeGeyt said.
There was discussion on another issue that resurfaces with every new Congress, getting radio to pay artists to play their music. He told the audience that both radio and performers have long benefitted from the promotional relationship radio provides artists by playing their music for free. Radio has been able to build a strong business model and artists have built successful careers.
A great example of that successful relationship is the Country Radio Seminar. At the Universal Music Group luncheon Tuesday, every artist from Vince Gill to Parker McCollom to Darius Rucker thanked radio for playing their music. They know radio airplay is a big step to becoming a superstar. Not a single artist said, ‘I wish you would pay me to play my songs.’
LeGeyt said the radio industry is willing to come to the table and work on a solution that works for everyone. He said if there was a way to get more dollars to the songwriters and performers, and not intermediaries, that’s a discussion worth having. He said a solution cannot undermine radio’s business model.
Finally, on finding new talent for radio, LeGeyt said the NAB will start ramping up its efforts on that front. “The NAB has to play a significant role in that. We are a national voice for local radio. You’ll see us ramp up our role in a national way.”