Last Christmas, we bought our professional staff iPods (in addition to giving out exorbitant cash bonuses). They all raced home and started ripping CDs and creating their own playlists, and in the process, changing the way they individually consume music.
Inspired by his new toy, our Ralph Cipolla wrote a great 4-page memo about cool iPod promotions that stations could put together. The advisory was full of ways to tie-in proprietary audio that stations have (morning show bits, parody songs, local bands, etc.), as well as ripping an entire A-to-Z stunt library into the iPod.
As I began discussing this memo with clients, the responses ran the gamut from “Great idea – it's about time you put out something like this out!” to “Are you out of your $@)#ing minds?”
And that sums up the dilemma. We're currently running an all-Jacobs client “Technology” web poll that will provide us with some data about who's buying and using iPods, and how they're impacting radio listening. Stay tuned for research updates in this space.
On the one hand, there are people who view the iPod as a pop culture phenomenon that stations must use as promotional vehicles, in the same way that you'd give away a DVD player or plasma TV. On the other, many believe that drawing even more attention to iPods will hasten radio's erosion.
So, now it's time for the audience participation part of this blog. What do you think? To Pod or not to Pod? That is indeed the question. Click the “COMMENTS” button below to add your feedback – or email me, email@example.com.
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Don Beno says
The Ipod is pop culture. While giving away an Ipod may actually be encouraging people to listen to other media than our radio stations, one doesn’t have to look too far back to see similarities in the 70’s & 80’s. Radio used to give away LP’s, cassettes and CD’s. There were AM stations giving away AM/FM/8-Track Hi-Fi systems for both the home and car.
And while there were some stations that had a no cassette or CD giveaway policy….some even had a “no MTV talk” policy… radio continued to move forward.
Now one can say the Ipod is a more convenient and immediate competitor than the Sony DiscMan or MTV ever were, and they would get little arguement. However, it’s time for broadcasters to step back a bit…and look at the “whole picture”…..
If our radio stations are simply jukeboxes…or Ipods that play commercials in between musical selections, than yes….the Ipod is a deadly threat, because that little audio device, the Ipod not only plays NO COMMERCIALS, it has the very best research available… The listener who gathers and programs those tunes into the Ipod.
As radio broadcasters, we have to deliver an audio product that goes beyond the perfect playlist. We have to become what we always should have been. A total entertainment package…a friend…an information source. This goes beyond the usual basic elements like sports scores…time checks and weather reports. These basics are already available…immediately on your listener’s cellphone.
Entertainment goes beyond the latest music news (instantly available on the internet). We have to expound the the element of personality. Put it this way….Howard Stern…Rush Limbaugh and Delilah will not be replaced by Ipods. They won’t be replaced by a web service or pager unless their performance becomes uninteresting, dull or unattractive.
Radio needs to think in terms of personality. And step back when you think “personality”. It doesn’t have to be a jock who does lesbian dial-a-date, or a talk show host who bashes Democrats or even a talent who plays sappy love song requests. Personality could be the station itself. “Stationality” was the term that was coined a few years ago. It could be a screamin deejay that injects new life into an oldie that has been heard by the audience 1000 times before. It could be shocking or irreverant image sweepers, innovative contests, poetry readers, rappers or countless things that have yet to be invented and put on the radio.
Radio will definitely have to reinvent itself it it wants to survive. And that reinvention extends well beyond the music.