Dain L. Schult, CEO, GET
Cockroaches can survive a direct nuclear warhead explosion. That was proven back in the Fifties when nuclear bomb tests were taking place all over the world.
Ironically the Fifties was a time when the original Golden Age of Radio was giving way to the first Golden Age of Television. All of the most famous radio show stars migrated to television with varying degrees of success. So that was the first test as to whether radio was washed up and ready to fade out like Vaudeville had in the Twenties when radio first appeared on the scene.
And just like the cockroaches running around after the bomb blew up, here came Allen Freed, Dick Clark and Top 40 Music Radio and the industry romped on merrily through the rest of the Fifties and all of the Sixties and Seventies with music radio supplanting the old days of soap operas, game shows, variety show and comedies that were all long gone to network television.
Then the Eighties hit and AM radio was gasping – FM had sucked all of the music off the AM dial for itself because it was stereo and AM wasn’t. Like Steely Dan sang – “no static at all…“
So who should appear to save AM but Rush Limbaugh (the greatest person to ever come out of Cape Girardeau, Missouri – just ask him) and with him came an army of other “talkers” who transformed the AM dial into a haven for every kind of talk, news and sports radio – all designed to engage and enrage you so that you would keep coming back for more. And the radio cockroaches kept right on scurrying about.
Meanwhile MTV and then VH1 were doing their damnedest to steal FM radio’s music audience away but could never assault radio where it mattered the most – in car listening – and besides, when the music industry really started tanking and the money for new music videos dried up MTV was the one having to reinvent itself. And yes, the radio cockroaches were alive and well and running around in everyone’s cars…
And then there was Internet Radio. The next logical evolutionary step in media and the very thing that neither the record industry nor terrestrial radio could kill though the music industry tried as hard as they could – when 10 Billion+ songs are being downloaded off of YouTube every year and converted to MP3 files without having to pay anybody anything for the music, you’d want to destroy it too, but I digress…
Old head terrestrial types used to think that just taking the on-air programming feed and shoving it on-line as well as “Internet Radio” and learned over time that wasn’t the answer.
The Next Radio crowd is banking on all of the phone manufacturers to put their FM chip in all the new smartphones they sell and while that is having some success it hasn’t taken the market by storm yet at all.
With 700,000+ Internet Radio stations coming and going every day, it sure looks like the future even if it’s totally jumbled and a version of the Tower of Babel at any given moment. This will be a totally different breed of cockroaches, to be sure.
The older cockroaches are still running around but they tend to be congregating in smaller towns and rural areas now – places where major market radio hasn’t killed everything and where a local DJ at their local station really still means something. So small town/rural radio will be the last to fade off the air.
Everything changes. Life is change. Business cycles come and go. The baby today is tomorrow’s old man waiting to die. And yet, there will still be cockroaches running around listening to radio – in one form or another.
What do you think?
(As an aside, GET will be involved in both Terrestrial and Internet radio operations in states across the country, including, but not limited to Georgia, Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Iowa and Wyoming.)