In recent years, even us “digital immigrants” have become adept at multitasking. Back in the day, you did one thing at a time. Ries & Trout preached about “The Law of Focus.” And von Clausewitz taught warriors that it's unwise to do battle on two fronts.
Yesterday at the Radio Show in Orlando, Rishad Tobaccowala refuted that philosophy. He's the Chief Growth Officer for the Publicis Groupe – and he had a lot to say to the gathering of radio broadcasting execs.
We've highlighted Tobaccowala before in this blog. He spoke earlier this year at Borrell's Local Online Advertising Conference – LOAC – in New York City. I know many of you enjoy the wit and wisdom of marketing gurus like Seth Godin, Simon Sinek, and Gary Vee. And I love them all, too.
But for my money, Tobaccowala's observations about our industry – media – are second to none. He's sharp, incisive, and insightful.
Yesterday morning, he gave the gathered Radio Show attendees this nugget:
“Only the schizophrenic will thrive”
Intel's former chief, Andy Grove, used to say “Only the paranoid will survive.” Rishad has turned that saying on its side to make the point that radio execs and their teams are now burdened with two heavy lifts.
Tobaccowala's premise is that companies, brands, and industries must focus their efforts on the present – but also the future. In radio terms, it's the dichotomy of making Q4 goals versus planning for radio's mission in 2025…and beyond.
Oftentimes, these goals are in conflict with another. The short term goal of achieving strong PPM ratings often clashes with the programing innovation required to create compelling radio that's competitive with SiriusXM, Spotify, or a consumer's personal music collection.
Think about it a trying to fix the plane while it's flying at 35,000 feet. In the short term, broadcasters need to continue to perform at projected levels. But to survive and thrive in the new media landscape, they have to transform as well.
Yes, it's schizophrenic, but that's the challenge the radio broadcasting industry must face. And it was illustrated again and again this week at the Radio Show. A stroll through the exhibit hall featured the usual array of traditional radio equipment, like music scheduling software – along with a number of booths devoted to companies pitching attribution solutions for broadcasters.
Panels ran the gamut, too. You weren't surprised to see sessions like “Programming Through Disasters” and “What a Healthy Station Looks Like by the Numbers.” But then there was “Alexa, Let's Listen to the Radio” and “Putting the AI in rAdIo” – reminders that radio must be different in the years – or even months – ahead.
This conference is just a microcosm of the world in which we live. The industry is taxed with facing change while continuing to make its numbers, satisfy Wall Street, as well as banks and private investors.
In that spirit, Tobaccolwala kicked off his talk with the acknowledgment that “Change sucks.”
Maybe. But one of the palpable differences that set this year's Radio Show's apart from so many in years past is that the kicking, screaming, and denial have stopped.
The industry has come to grips with the change that is all around us. Some of you may wonder what's taken so long. But some industries and mega-companies (think Kodak) don't figure it out until it's too late. The clock is ticking for traditional media, but radio owners and operators have heard it load and clear.
And in session after session, conversation after conversation in hotel lobbies and restaurants, and in meetings and brainstorms, radio broadcasters are facing and embracing change, and trying to figure it out. Company chieftains are avidly promoting innovation and experimentation, while pushing hard against “group think” and the leftovers who wish radio would go back to the old pre-Internet days.
From measurement to cars to streams to podcasts to demographics to disruption, the radio industry is moving, in pursuit of ideas, answers, and solutions.
For Jacobs Media, we have attempted to help the industry better understand what it's up against, provide research that defines where we are today while paving a path to the future, and helping chief executives and their teams cope with the changes. In that spirit, Radio Show 2018 was gratifying, while alos a reminder that we've got a long way to go as we multi-task through the storm.
At the Marconi Awards dinner last night, many of the winners took home trophies based on their heroid, dedidcated disaster coverage of debilitating hurricnes thtat paraylyzed their communities. And rightfully so.
But the rest of the industry will need to similarly fight through the storms of change to creatte a future where local radio thrives despite a voice-activated, AI-fueled, personalized and customized media environment.
As the industry has learned – often the hard way – this is not the time to pump the brakes.
Hand me a wrench. We've got a lot of work to do.
Thanks, Perry Michael Simon.