I get it. It’s about writing sensational, provocative headlines and posting photos guaranteed to stand out and get a laugh. I’ve got the same challenges with this blog.
But this Mashable story by Jason Abbruzzese takes a double cheap shot at broadcast radio, first with a degrading headline, and then with a photo from the 1940’s depicting people listening to radio like they did when F.D.R. was in the White House. James Cridland would call it “lazy.” He’s nice and more proper than me. I call it “lame,” and let’s add in “demeaning” and “unwarranted.”
And ironically, the story is ultimately a left-handed compliment to radio, acknowledging that in spite of it being “old” and “boring,” it is the one to beat. Abbruzzese looks at an app called 60db that use bite-sized on-demand content – like hundreds of other apps before it. 60db launched last September, and is already pivoting to try to find its sweet spot.
Interestingly, this same theme – that radio is king and everyone else covets its audience, its reach, its simplicity, and its position in the daily fabric of millions of people’s lives – came up in a statement by Sirius/XM CEO Jim Meyer on an investor call. While Meyer claimed satellite radio “dominates in-car listening today” (it doesn’t), he continues to admit SiriusXM’s “primary competitor” is broadcast radio, a medium his listeners tune to “for local weather, local sports, local news.”
True that, but he left out personalities, social acknowledgment, habitual listening, emotional brand connection, and of course, the other key benefit of broadcast radio that SiriusXM cannot compete against: IT’S FREE.
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So, now that I’ve cooled off over the Mashable story, I’ve come up with a replacement image for the “old time radio” photos so many snarky writers opt for. How about running the Nielsen graphic below, depicting the total weekly reach of various sources in a solar system worth of media and entertainment sources and platforms.
Yes, I’ve drawn the aura around radio…and for good reason. And if SiriusXM was on this chart, it’s estimated 51.6 million audience (from the “advertise with us” page from its website) is less than a quarter of AM/FM radio’s mass – not a major planet. If 60db was plotted in the media solar system, it would barely be the size of your average asteroid.
Does broadcast radio have challenges and issues, amid all the disruption? Without a doubt, and virtually everyone in the business acknowledges that. We talk about many of those issues in this blog in the belief that radio can and needs to do better in order to effectively compete.
But old, boring, and living in a sepia-toned living room?
Not even close.
Mashable, you’re better than this.
Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.
In 2008, jacapps was launched - a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,000 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created - a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.
Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.