Play The Game They Can’t


The metagame is about understanding the bigger picture and outsmarting the competition by doing something they can’t – or won’t – do. When you understand WHY your competitors do the things they do, you can choose to play a game they can’t play.”

Spotify and Apple Music understood that broadcast radio could not offer the enormous playlists they can and that broadcast radio could not exist without commercials.

(There is only one subscriber path in broadcast radio and that is NPR.)

So, what have WE learned about Spotify and Apple Music since they stormed onto the scene?

First, that they can’t exist without some sort of commercial support. Oh, they can get millions of users, but they can’t make money depending only on subscribers.

And their real Achilles’ Heel? They suck at something Radio does best: companionship.

They can’t replicate that familiar voice keeping listeners company as they go about their day.

They suck at the personal part of personality, at sharing stories and comments and information that makes you feel they know you, care about you – as if s/he is sitting right there next to you, listening with you, right where you live.

Sadly, those running our largest broadcast radio companies today seem not to understand that either.

Or perhaps they just don’t want to pay for the talent that knows how to do that.

Talent is expensive, it can be messy and moody and sometimes impossible to replace – meaning the talent kind of runs the show. Picture Howard Stern…

People that charismatic, who can touch others’ hearts and engage with them so personally are rare.


if consolidated radio’s eventual collapse offers any opportunity for new ownership, they should start right here!

Because there are enough of these talented people who’ve left Radio and become available to lead the way forward.

I won’t hold my breath, but it is a glimmer of hope.