(By Buzz Knight) It was tremendous being with so many friends and colleagues at the NAB 2023. It’s uplifting to be connected in person with so many folks after our recent period of disconnection.
When we feel that type of energy it fuels a sense of hopefulness that we can all figure out how to navigate the turbulence. But we cannot forget the words of friend and industry veteran Gary Marince who would brilliantly break down ratings and product performance and challenge us by saying “Hope is not a strategy.”
He would say it with his comedic deadpan delivery, yet he really meant it as a sobering reminder to the difficulties of the road ahead. The radio industry has been the cornerstone of the media landscape for over a century; however, the business is facing unprecedented disruption and competition from an onslaught of digital media.
Relying on hope to weather the storm clouds ahead is not enough.
The industry has been facing significant challenges for years, yet it seems many radio companies are hoping for a miracle rather than taking significant action. The data supports the need for change no matter where you look – from Nielsen data to Edison’s Share of Ear alarm bells need to sound for greater attention to product focus.
Audiences are eroding not only because of the many other choices but because of lack of attention to the little things that matter for product excellence. Often you hear comments suggest that the ratings don’t matter; it’s only about the revenue. This is understandable due to the debt service many companies must address but it is a losing proposition.
We must be in a product-first mindset for the sake of saving great brands that have been built over decades. I’m hearing more stories of format flips or format evolutions made purely on gut instinct. I’m all for using gut as a factor but we need science in the form of research to back up the gut/emotion.
Speaking of hope, are companies hoping they can attract younger audiences purely on their good looks? This is a mission-critical problem with no solution in sight. Where is the long-term strategy?
Another key strategy for the radio industry is to develop strong partnerships with other media companies. By working with digital media companies radio stations can leverage their existing brand recognition and programming expertise to create compelling new content for a digital audience. This can help to expand the reach of traditional radio stations and provide a bridge between the old and new media worlds.
In conclusion, hope is not a strategy for the radio industry. When the trade winds of an industry are facing challenges, a proactive approach to a changing media landscape is the only way to survive and thrive.
Buzz Knight can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]. Read Buzz’ Radio Ink archives here.