Radio’s Humanity

Are you listening, NAB?

If you don’t already subscribe to Mark Ramsey‘s blog, you need to.

In today’s post entitled, Where’s Radio’s Humanity?, Mark points to the reasons I am doubtful that those who now own radio companies will be the ones to create whatever Radio is to become over the next 10 years. Each of his 3 insghts in this post are thought-provoking. Here’s part of Insight #2:

Where the small company has an advantage and where there can be an infinite number of small companies the edge will go to he or she who has the more compelling idea.  And compelling ideas are usually creative solutions to consumer problems.

A large part of radio’s difficulty is that tough financial times tend not to encourage creative ideas because those ideas are inherently risky and un-free.  Instead, tough times favor efficiency and cost control.

Well let me say it flat out:  You will never protect and grow your audience by becoming more efficient and cost-conscious.  You will only protect your margins as you shrink.
(emphasis added)

That doesn’t mean you should spend like drunken sailors.  It simply means you should regard your business as a business – where investment leads to rewards and you take many gambles because some – not all – pay off.  Such is the nature of innovation.  And that’s what consumers have come to demand.

One of the things I like best about Mark’s perspective is that it is ultimately optimistic, rather like Seth Godin, whose posts also always feel hopeful, and unlike another Radio seer, Jerry Del Colliano, who is about doom and gloom.

Mark understands that factors — the recession, consolidation and debt-servicing, even PPM — are moving stations towards becoming more music intensive at the very moment this becomes the most easily replaceable form of “radio,” and he argues persuasively against this trend.

This is precisely the discussion we should be having every day in our business. If Mark is not being asked to lead an organized dialogue about this topic, he should be.