Sunday, June 13, 2010

Goodbye (Traditional) Radio!

I left the radio industry professionally over 10 years ago, but never left the audio medium from a professional observer and consumption standpoint.   I still maintain that audio is the most powerful communication medium of them all and regardless of the morphing of consumer habits to consume, it will continue to be, if not the winner, one of the most effective channels of communication - attention marketers!


Simply it's the only non-linear medium that you can fully concentrate on while you're doing something else!

You can certainly add in the other benefits such as theater of the mind, the number of people who are primarily auditory in nature, the personal nature of listening alone through earbuds or headphones and the like.  But, without distraction, can you read or watch TV as well as you can listen to audio while driving your car, jogging, answering email, reading a book, magazine, newspaper, blog post, etc?

I argue NO!

Now, the purpose of this post.....on June 21st, the new Apple iOS4 will be released allowing latest generation iPhone and iPod Touch users to update their software.   There are a myriad of enhancements to the hardware in the new iPhone 4.0, but the real game changer is the software that will allow you to multitask on your device.  The talk is the ability to switch between (selected) apps instantly with all apps remembering where you were the last time you used them.

But the real game changer for me is the ability to use your device while the (selected) Internet radio application of your choice continues to play.  The example shown in April was Pandora's ability to stream while you are using other apps.  Previously, you could only listen to music you had stored on the device while using any of your other apps.  If not later this month, soon the other "radio" apps will have this capability, whether it be Stitcher, iHeart Radio, AOL Radio, NPR or the hundreds of general and specific options you'll find in the App Store.

This changes everything for me, a veracious consumer of audio content on both my iPhone and iPod.

Yes, the Android platform has featured multitasking and this capability all along, but come on, admit that the masses use iPhones and heretofore Android deployment has been mostly the early adopter and geek community.  Count the white earbuds next time you're on any form of mass transit.

But that's not all, the next blow is later this year when the Ford SYNC system brings Internet radio to the car, the last safe haven for terrestrial and satellite radio.  Read this!

While I don't drive a Ford, already my subscription to XM ends at the anniversary date because I am already using the 3G on my iPhone to listen to many of the apps above in my car today.  A bit geeky I'll admit and requiring an audio input (which my car has), but when Internet radio shows up on the dashboard for the masses, it's all over.

Ah but Todd, what about the local traffic, news and weather (together) that local terrestrial radio provides?   Good point!

Anyone who has worked in radio knows that the traffic is spotty and rarely relevant to enough of the audience.  I get my traffic on my Google Maps app on the iPhone which measures the speed of the other iPhone users on the road and is amazingly accurate.  Throw in alerts I get from for my commute and I don't need the faux-helicopter traffic reports.   Local news comes in the form of tweets and RSS feeds from the local newspapers and TV stations that I subscribe to.  A quick glance at Tweetie and/or Google Reader and I'm all set in the morning.  That's my new "morning newspaper".   Weather is similar.   My iPhone shows me the forecast and current radar (wherever I am).

And I'm a baby boomer.  Imagine how the millennials are NOT using traditional radio.  iPod, torrents, streaming  (I'm listening to a live streaming concert from Bonnaroo 2010 as I create this post), etc.

I love radio.  I love audio.  I listen to more "radio" today than ever, it's just none of it comes from that tall tower on the horizon.  Sorry.  Figure it out boys.  The audio medium is stronger than ever.  As I heard Om Malik say the other day on an audio podcast, as I was doing yard work outside, anyone dealing with this real digital disruption, should be looking forward, not backward or you're going to run into something and have a serious accident.

Or maybe you already have.


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