Video Killed the Radio Star. But Why?

Few days back I read an article discussing how the radio managed to bring about its own downfall. If you take a minute and reflect on what the radio is all about you can’t help but be surprised how a medium managed to alienate its customers.

Many researches and surveys show that music is something that 9 out of 10 people enjoy or appreciate in some form or the other. Yet, the radio, which broadcast that very same music – fell out of favour with the public. The same thing is now happening with TV, books, movies and the music industry as well to some extent. People aren’t losing interest in the content in itself – they’re just getting disinterested with the same old style of programming and the shoving of untargeted advertising. There is a certain charm in listening to music without knowing which song comes next and hearing a nice friendly voice in between songs. But that hasn’t helped.

I think there is a lot to be learnt from the downfall of free radio. It is now mainly consumed by a handful of people in cars without CD, cassette, iPod, mobile phone and a player  – and yet have a radio. The number is small and the target audience doesn’t have much purchasing power.So the reasons are these :

Reason 1 : Lack of Innovation

With the advent of the cassette player and the iPod, the radio started losing its significance to the on-the-move person. And when you add that to the already diminished market of radio-listeners at home (thanks to the TV) it becomes clear that what was needed was some innovation. People were getting more novel experiences elsewhere and the radio was becoming out-dated.

When I say they need to ‘innovate’ I mean the enterprises themselves need to evolve – like TV is evolving (or at least they’re trying). The music industry on the other hand is far from evolving.

Why not try a system where cheap new tech was invested in which could connect a radio like system with the internet and get it into people’s cars?

Reason 2 : Advertising to everyone (which means advertising to no-one)

If there is one thing that online search and display advertising has taught marketers, it is that you get better returns if you target your ads to the most receptive audience. Radio advertising has always been at the bottom of the advertising pyramid and the medium never attempted to move past that label. There are a number of possible different styles to attract a more powerful and long term partner in advertising than the local coffee shop that will pay you pittance.

Anything is better than stuff like this –

<music>
Men! Are you finding that you are urinating more frequently?
Do you sometimes wake-up at night to urinate?
Now be honest, how’s your sex life been lately?
Super-beta prostate contains 10,000 times the active ingredient found in ___!
</music>

Why not sell advertising slots by the day, ensuring a richer advertising performance and better quality of creatives?

Reason 3 : Lack of innovative programming

Ok. This is something which will come along side the solutions of the other 2 problems. As more money gets invested and advertising returns can increase, so will the quality of professionals & hence the programming.

The radio is getting fast out-dated and I feel it is still a medium that can be exploited to reach the maximum audience on the cheap and efficiently.

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