Twice again, radio survived another death knell in March 2013. This time around, consumers smacked the corporate giants who thought they knew better.
First, rumors swirled that two automakers had plans to remove AM/FM radios from new car dashboards, following an industry-shaking announcement at a Silicon Valley panel. Within days, Detroit’s Big Three refuted those claims with reports confirming radio’s place in the dashboard.
Then, last week, Microsoft reversed its decision to deactivate the FM chip in its new mobile phone software, saying that the chips would, indeed, be switched on and ready to tune in listener favorites.
To those of us who work in radio, these stories and premature obituaries are little more than a distracting nuisance; and only because some people who read this garbage actually believe it.
Former NPR CEO Ken Stern recently predicted radio would be gone in 15 years. Then again, he made the exact same prediction 10 years ago.
If you look at radio’s history, you’ll see radio’s got more lives than the line-up at a Purina casting call. Starting with the advent of television in the 1940s and ‘50s and sailing through the runaway rapids of 8-tracks, cassettes, MTV, Nintendo, Sony Walkmans, CDs, iPods and iTunes, radio has shrugged off every would-be annihilator to continue providing entertainment and information to Americans, coast to coast.
The most recent Arbitron RADAR 116 Report (released in March 2013) shows that 242.8 million Americans listen to AM/FM radio every week. That’s a 1.6 million person increase over 2012. And the biggest demographic gain came among teenagers, the audience segment strategists swore would abandon AM/FM in favor of new audio platforms and shiny, electronic toys.
Weekly time spent listening may be down, but that only mirrors the thinning of audience share that ABC, CBS and NBC Television experienced when cable and satellite made room for hundreds of new competitors. Those networks didn’t die, they simply adjusted their programming and marketing tactics to survive in a more crowded playing field.
For us at The Radio Agency, the expanded audio playing field offers more ways for advertisers and marketers to pinpoint their audience and leverage success with our media partners.
AM/FM stations offer more ways to engage with listeners, through their websites, promotions, sponsorships, listener clubs and events.
Satellite radio lets marketers cluster channels to target a specific demographic and place national buys at a cost comparable to a local market spend.
Internet radio platforms like Pandora and Slacker enable pinpoint targeting by age, gender and geography with zero waste outside of demo.
Podcasts, in-store radio countless Internet music services engage the audience at the point of sale or when they’re immersed in entertainment fulfilling their specific interest in a topic or genre.
Radio’s embrace of technology fans out the spectrum of entertainment and advertising options. As an advertising agency exclusively working in this medium, it’s made our job more challenging and a lot more fun. For our clients, it’s created countless new ways to make the medium work.