A lot of folks will tell you that radio is dying. Trends show fewer people listening and advertising dollars shrinking. A lot of folks - myself included - have read the tea leaves and concluded that radio is diminishing in importance as a mass medium. Well, what if we're all wrong?
Certainly the facts show that internet usage is increasing steadily and the tide is rising in on-line content creation and advertising revenue. But what about the old media? Is it really dying? I think the answer is yes...and no.
After TV invaded the North American living room, the network radio programs of the 30's, 40's and 50's faded away. They were replaced by rock and roll radio and music programming that captured a huge audience. The new radio programming ushered in a musical and cultural revolution. The transistor radio became a driving force of this change. It was the ipod of the 60's.
Radio will change again. Radio is changing already.
Clear Channel announced the sale of its stations this year. Clearly they thought the time was right to get out of Dodge. I saw the pictures of doddering old Don Imus in the days before he was excused from CBS radio. Why was this guy still holding forth on a major radio network in an era when young consumers are the hot commodity? Rush Limbaugh is a product of the '80's, Paul Harvey is still on the air, Rick Dees is still doing mornings in LA (though no longer at KiiS FM) and everyone else is still doing a robotic version of a music format that was invented by Bill Drake in 1965. Could it be that radio has simply become stuck in a malevolent time warp?
Taking a moment to gaze into my crystal ball, I see good things for radio. I see a medium that won't be tied to it's past much longer. I see radio learning from the new producers and entertainment programmers in podcasting. When radio loses it's rigid format clock, the possibilities for the kind of innovation we're hearing on line will migrate into broadcasting. That will be good for radio. That will be good for new and interesting programmers who will reach a broader audience and that will be the death of radio as we've known it for a generation.
The net is full of innovative programs without much of an audience. Radio has an audience but it sure could use some innovative programming.
In the mean time, since the exit of Clear Channel, we're producing more radio commercials at The Production Room than we have in quite some time.
The Production Room was founded in 1995 as one of the first full time digital commercial recording facilties on the central coast of California. We started with 4 stereo tracks, 16 mb of ram and a 250 mb hard drive. A lot has happened since then. Today we're focusing on ways to serve clients who are creating web based media content. This includes strategic planning to integrate the benefits of traditional media, web design and IT solutions into new programs produced especially for on-line consumers. Join in the conversation. Throw rocks at glass houses. Share your vision of the future. This is the most progressive time in the media arts since Johannes Gutenburg invented movable type!