Radio has a perception problem, but it’s not with our customers (listeners), it’s with ourselves—Check out this latest data from Arbitron about listenership using metered markets. Radio Delivers
Radio listenership has actually grown over the last 20 years. Radio is still the way most new music gets to the masses. Radio is still a major part of people’s lives, and as a business a successful station still commands 30 to 50 percent margins. Unheard of in any other industry. Radio has an issue with self-esteem
The problem lies with us. When new facts and figures come out about the power of live, local radio, we don’t believe the data. It’s like we beg the popular girl in high school to go out this us, and when she agrees, we find ways to talk her out of it!
If I pull rating information from 15 years ago our FM had an overall weekly Cume (overall listenership) of about 85,000. Today we have closer to 100,000. Keep in mind Springfield, Ma lost population during this time, and we actually dropped almost ten market positions.
So, we have more listeners and more revenue than 15 years ago, yet the radio industry still feels it’s not worthy to sit at the grownup table. This inferiority complex has been going on since the 50’s. Why would anyone want to listen to local radio when they have TV? Why would anyone want to listen to radio when they have satellite? Why would anyone want to listen to radio when they have Pandora?
The answer then and now has always been the same. Content is king. Crap content is still crap no matter how it’s delivered. If radio would concentrate on serving the local community with great content, they wouldn’t have to worry about every new form of entertainment that comes along.
The problem is the industry feels guilty. Most stations offer canned voice tracks that don’t engage a local audience. So when a Slacker or Pandora comes along, the radio industry feels threatened that this will be the tipping point. The time when listeners finally realize, “wow—local radio doesn’t really care about me anymore”
Live, local, relevant radio will survive when collectively it cares about the product and serving their cities of license.