Did you hear that Norway is eliminating all FM radio? What insights can we, as media leaders, divine from this news?
Think about it. Terrestrial radio, broadcast on airwaves, is subject to extreme limitations. It’s costly to maintain a transmitter and rent a site. The AM/FM footprint is restricted by theFCC. The sound quality can be sketchy, and frankly, monopolistic license holders have arguably opened up the door for competition by eliminating local programming and degrading content.
Surely digital is the way to go. You can start your own station tonight. Tens of thousands have done so. Quality is pristine. Programming can be geared for any taste or interest. Your footprint is worldwide. And if you are an advertiser looking for cigar-smoking pet owners, you can deliver an ad custom-made just for her and know she’s listening.
But what else is the Norway initiative telling us? Here’s the key: Listeners—our clients’ consumers and customers—don’t care one bit which platform they are listening to. (They don’t even know what “platform” means). They care about two things: the content they want to listen to and a convenient way to hear it.
If you like Car Talk on NPR and you’re home at 10 a.m., you’re listening on your radio; in your car, maybe it’s over satellite; if you’re running, you can listen to the stream, or if it’s the next day, there’s always the podcast. It doesn’t matter. Digital isn’t a medium. In this case, the medium is not the message; the message is the message.
We as marketers must realize that this is the golden age of sound, radio, audio. Whatever you call it, more people are engaged longer than ever before in content that hits the ear, thanks to mobile devices, connected cars, digital programming, podcasts, satellite and streaming. And let us also not forget that more than 245 million people still listen to AM and FM, despite the industry’s premature obituaries. Our job at CRN is to look at theaudioscape in a more holistic way and follow the lead of our listeners—our clients’ customers—wherever their ears may take them. We need to consider what engages them, and in what context—not just the device.