Yesterday's post discussed the power of the individual voice – and it resonated with many of you.
Today, we're coming at it from a different angle – what happens when the radio broadcasting industry bands together in a unified show of strength?
It was on display yesterday in Las Vegas to commemorate the tragic anniversary of the shooting incident that murdered 58 people attending a concert, wounded many others, and left a permanent scar on Sin City. The Strip went dark to remember this vile event, and radio played a role as well when the market's Country stations and others in their market shut their microphones off and paused their music and their contests for one minute.
That was a powerful show of strength and unity. When radio goes dark and shuts down, people notice. It's a moment and an important one at that.
Interestingly, Chicago radio stations have banded together on several occasions to “roadblock” an event – that's where just about every station in the market bands together to demonstrate what happens when radio speaks in a single voice. Nearly two years ago, we wrote about the first of these amazing events where 40 stations provided Mayor Rahm Emanuel a half hour (in the middle of the fall book with Christmas music already on the air).
Since then, other “radio roadblocks” have been pulled off in Chicago, thanks to the leadership of the Illinois Broadcasters Associations and the major station groups in town. This has included more commercial ventures for Chicagoland Chevy Dealers as well as a financial company.
Both of these shows of strength – going silent and going big and loud is proof positive that when the radio community puts its swords and rate cards down, anything can happen.
Yesterday, the head of Connoisseur Media's Jeff Warshaw announced a new initiative across his entire group – “One Song, One Us.” Every day at 2pm, stations will feature one listener-selected song that will bring a message of positivity and respect. The campaign is designed “to encourage unity, love, kindness, acceptance and hope in our communities through the power of music.”
There is no one more warrior-like, competitive, and carnivorous power broker than Warshaw. With “One Song, One Us,” he's using the power of radio to uplift and unite – characteristics mostly missing from today's tribal discourse.
That's just one radio company, but it's a start.
I was reminded of the fragmented nature of the commercial radio broadcasting industry this past week at The Radio Show. Most of radio's CEOs were on hand, speaking about some of the key challenges and opportunities facing the industry – data, connected cars, podcasting, and smart speakers were all very top-of-mind topics.
Each of these is a heavy lift. They're daunting initiatives, requiring capital, research, creativity, and personnel – investments where most radio companies come up short. And yet, as is so often the case, broadcasters choose to go it alone. In most cases, each company is staking out its own plan, its own platform, its own philosophy.
Many might say that's the nature of capitalism – or Darwinism. It's a competitive world out there, and the riches and spoils belong to the those wealthy, smart, talented, and ruthless enough to scoop them up. But in an every-man (and woman) for-himself environment, the power of the many gets blurred in the process.
Oddly enough, radio's teaching moment is brought to you by the auto industry, another sector where car companies rarely collaborate, mostly choosing to go their own way. And look at the result. Dashboards that are wildly different, sub par driver experiences, and confusion among car buyers and car dealers alike have been the norm for the past decade.
Fragmentation is precisely what has enabled tech outsiders Apple and Google to invade their dashboards with CarPlay and Android Auto – ecosystems that literally take over the head unit, wiping out auto company branding, while putting broadcast radio in the background.
The auto companies' next frontier is data. And once again, they're showing all signs of creating 30 different models, rather than working together to strengthen their position, using the power of their massive footprint.
We are all more powerful when we speak with one voice. A huge percentage of Americans listen to iHeart stations or Cumulus stations or Entercom stations. But the 93% reach figure quoted again and again in Orlando is the combined strength of the entire industry – not just the big companies, but the regional broadcasters, as well as the mom & pops.
“Go big or go home” is a mantra everyone in radio understands. And in an environment where radio competes with everybody, how much better off might the industry be if it more frequently worked together for its own benefit?
And for the good of the audiences and the communities it serves?
“Speak with one voice” is something that organizations like NAB and NASBA (National Alliance of State Broadcaster Associations) foster every day.
It is amazing what radio can do when it pulls together behind one mic.
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 1,200 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.
Fred was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2018.