Tipping Point for Traditional Radio

Traditional radio will be left out of Steve Jobs’ new mobile tablet device that he is expected to announce next Wednesday.

Malcolm Gladwell in his book of the same name defined the tipping points to be "the levels at which the momentum for change becomes unstoppable".

My friends, we are about to witness history next week when Apple provides the electronics, the infrastructure and the consumer confidence (no small thing) to upend traditional media.

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal alluded to Apples’s goals. No one will know until Apple CEO Steve Jobs comes down from on high to announce the next big thing, but speculation is running rampant. 

The table could allow for cable television subscriptions customized by the user and billed to the their Apple account.  Music may be streamed and safely tucked away on a "cloud" for instant access anywhere on any device — again, for a monthly fee.

Monthly  fees have failed miserably in the music sector but Apple could pull it off with a cool new device that allows consumers to read books, save the newspaper industry from itself, access school textbooks, read PDGs, go onlline, use apps from Apple’s app store, play video and movies at a whim, listen to Internet Radio and Pandora and on and on.

But what appear to be left out is old fashioned TRADITIONAL RADIO.

You see, the TIPPING POINT has already been reached in radio and the momentum cannot be stopped.  Consolidators and their followers have killed off local programming and local personalities.  They’ve done this with a smile on their faces (after all, remember a year ago when Clear Channel laid off almost 2,000 people and said that was going to fix the industry?).

Maybe it would be better to rename the TIPPING POINT the DIPPING POINT in the case of the radio industry.  Turns out less was NEVER more.  Any idiot knows that.

Even an alien from Mars would know that to dilute local radio for the economies of repeater radio, Imus in the Morning, syndication, voice tracking and other cheap programming is compromising the whole industry’s future.

And not, next week, radio will see just what bean counter planning earned it — a footnote at best on the most fabulous new consumer device and entertainment platform ever devised.

Radio is not necessary to people other than radio executives.

Yes I know, — 236 million people listen to radio every week according to Radar and big CHR stations still pull in millions of listeners (if you count People Meter metrics as listeners).

I would respond, if radio is strong at 236 million people, why was the industry declining even before the recession? I know from my work teaching the next generation — radio has by its own hand removed itself from the soundtrack of its listeners’ lives.

Radio studies layoffs and new ways to get health care companies to buy spots while consumers get their news and entertainment online and from mobile devices.  The Wall Street Journal article’s only mention of radio is INTERNET RADIO.

Here it is:

"People familiar with Apple’s plans say a central part of the new strategy is to populate as many Web sites as possible with "buy" buttons, integrating iTunes transactions into activities like listening to Internet Radio."

Yet the traditional radio industry is content to sit still and miss the NEXT WAVE aften having denied its way through the Internet Revolution for the past decade. Why do you think every major broadcast company budgets less than 3% at best for Internet,, Mobile and Digital Operations?  Isn’t that wrong?  The Internet will be the thing historians will look back on 50 years from today — not towers and transmitters.

The long awaited digital future is days away.  Let’s watch it develop together and find ways to become a part of it.

Reprinted from Jerry Del Colliano’s outstanding "insider blog" called INSIDE MUSIC MEDIA.

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