The same old song

For weeks Jerry Del Colliano had been promoting his Marketing Solutions Summit as an opportunity for broadcasters to learn new ways to address the challenges they face as radio listening patterns and engagement increasingly reflect our digital society.

Who knows what will result from this well-conceived conference and others like it. But much like listening to the same song over and over on the radio until it hurts, we have to wonder how many times broadcasters can hear the same threats to their future over and over until they feel equipped enough to do something about it or at least motivated enough to find out.

Broadcasters realize it’s a different media world out there. Consumption of sound, video and print today have forever changed the way people enjoy entertainment and receive information. Millennials have grown up without radio as a seminal influence, and the coming Plurals generation will be even less dependent on the medium. The attention span of people of all ages is shorter than ever as they fumble with and juggle so many instantaneous information outlets. Broadcasters recognize now more than ever that it is critical for them to make themselves relevant, authentic and valuable to listeners both on-air and online. The message is clear — and believe it or not, in this moving-at-the-speed-of-light pace, it’s already getting old.

Just to review a few talking points that you surely have heard somewhere if not here:

  • Broadcasters can’t keep syndicating, voice tracking and consolidating resources and hope to deliver a compelling product to this emerging generation of listeners. Remember, they were not raised with radio in their blood. So short of a transfusion, broadcasters have to find a way to their hearts. You’re working with a mindset of listeners who simply know what they want when they want it, wherever they can get it.
  • Broadcasters still are not efficient enough at using or monetizing digital media.  While websites and social media are the currency with which the new generations engage, broadcasters haven’t found the formula for turning their own digital assets into breadwinning extensions of their core product. Advertisers see it the same way.
  • Content for Millennials and Plurals is everywhere. Connect with it, understand it, create it, and deliver it in unique and compelling ways.
  • People have shorter attention spans and are constantly pulled in different directions by the tools of instantaneous communication. Where does radio fit in this maze of digital distraction? I’ll tell you: One of radio’s staples has been a listener dependence on local information and music discovery. Once listener apathy draws them to another medium for whatever reasons, you shortly thereafter can expect them to use their new medium for info and discovery as well.

Jerry maintained that digital must become a serious second revenue stream for radio and not just something broadcasters have to throw out there gratuitously to show listeners they “get it” when it comes to the changing media world.

It was a good discussion, and the fact that the room was full showed that these challenges are being recognized as real within the broadcast community.  There’s still time to win over the newer generation – let’s get going.