New Year’s Resolutions For Radio


(By Mike McVay) Out with the old and in with the new. The start of a new year brings hope, excitement, a chance for a fresh start, resolutions, and promises to oneself. It’s a time for personal and professional reassessment. Gauge your progress in reaching goals. Set new goals. Acknowledge unrealistic goals and throw them aside or set a new path to accomplish them. Ask yourself what success looks like as you project ahead for 2024. We all need a sense of purpose for our careers and our lives. 

We found 2023 to be a mixed bag of a year. National and Network sales looked strong through Q1 and Q2. Then we hit what has been referred to as an advertising recession which lasted through Q3 and Q4. Local seemed to hold its own through the year. Quarterly reports were presented to stockholders with a promise for a better 2024 ahead based on it being an election year. Crossing fingers isn’t a strategy. Companies focusing on political advertising as a specialty worthy of a unique sales approach will see the most growth in that category.

How radio will be sold in the near future is another conversation taking place behind closed doors. Radio needs to take a print and/or a 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 are both measured by circulation/impressions.

What will be the radio version of click-throughs? Radio needs to move to an impressions model akin to how SiriusXM sells advertising or sponsorships. They never share their ratings. Only overall subscriptions.

To that end, the past year saw more debate on how radio should be measured as Nielsen changed ownership. We saw a rating rebound in 2023 with cume reaching pre-pandemic levels. Although, arguably, all radio listening is being captured fully by the rating and research companies. Radio is heard on multiple platforms. All platforms are not measured in the same fashion. If you’re in a diary market, you’re dependent on a #2 lead pencil and memory. If you’re in a metered market, you’re dependent on being encoded on all platforms. 

Artificial Intelligence became the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. AI and compensation were a part of the foundation of the SAG/AFTRA strike. Outside of Hollywood, the letters A and I struck fear in the heart of air talent, voice-over, and commercial VO talent as well. As a talent, what you should want to do is be unique and engaging to a point where you’re not copyable. If you’re a talent who sells their voice, then own it. Change NIL (Name, Image, Likeness) to NILV with the V being Voice. Don’t be afraid of Artificial Intelligence. Figure out how to use it to your advantage.

Finally, Radio seems to have moved on from trying to eliminate the word “Radio” in favor of “Audio.” It made sense to me initially that Audio is bigger & broader than Radio. Then I saw research that showed listeners referring to most of the audio they hear as Radio. Apple named their audio product Apple Radio. Same with Spotify Radio and Amazon Stations. It’s “Radio.” I hear it on my phone, my laptop, my smart speaker, and all my devices. It’s Radio. And Radio has much bigger challenges than what it’s called. 

New Year’s Resolutions for Radio:

  • Strive to improve the listening experience for the audience. Make it better – period.
  • Strategize how to shift to an impression-based model for measurement.
  • Reprice the product using a results-oriented metric versus a CPM.
  • Acknowledge that the level of competition is great and will become even greater. That means you must always put your best foot forward … on ALL platforms.
  • Harness the power of Artificial Intelligence. It isn’t going away. 
  • Spend less time worrying about whether you call it radio or audio. Spend more time on entertaining and informing an audience.
  • Realize that personalities are VERY important to your success. We cannot beat a streaming service with music alone. Entertaining, engaging, informative, and connected air talent make the difference. A BIG difference.
  • Stop complaining. Maybe this isn’t the radio that it was when you got into the business – but if you want to stay in it, adapt, adjust, and bring solutions and suggestions. Wash, rinse, and repeat until someone hears you. It’s going to take loud voices to make progress. It always does.
  • 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. Resolve to enjoy what you do… or do something else. We all deserve to enjoy our jobs because they impact our lives and the lives of those we love.

Happy New Year to You and Yours!

Mike McVay is President of McVay Media and can be reached at [email protected]. Read Mike’s Radio Ink archives here.


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