Radio Keeps Sliding. Who’s To Blame?

A friend of mine was preparing his keynote address to hundreds of radio managers. He’d have the industry’s attention and wanted to seize the moment. So, he filled a whiteboard with buzzwords like podcasting and digital revenue. Then he asked, “what’s missing?” and handed me a sharpie.

I wrote one word at the top: Courage.

A new study just revealed the obvious: radio listening is down again. Shocking, I know. The real tragedy is that everyone saw this coming – and nobody had the courage to evolve. Surrounded by competitors, those same radio execs sat on their hands.

There’s plenty of blame to go around. But, the buck stops with owners who strip-mined their stations. Blame the managers who gutted their station’s best air talent. Blame the radio programmers who settle for mediocrity. Blame desperate sales managers who sold, bartered and sponsored every spare minute of air time.

I’ve taken some heat for blaming consultants for being complicit in radios downfall. Call me crazy, but shouldn’t consultants be an honest, objective advisor? Of course, speaking the truth requires courage, and risks their monthly retainer.

Here’s my take. Ten years ago, I wrote an article called How To Unsuck Radio. It offered a road map for the path forward. Privately, I got kudos from radio leaders, with a warning to not hold my breath.

That’s why if radio was a movie, they’d be rolling the credits.

Smart radio managers should take a hard look in the mirror, gather their core team in a hotel room and critically listen to their stations. Spend an entire day asking the hard questions. Maybe jump in the car and punch around the dial, like your listeners do.

Then, brainstorm new ideas until your head explodes.

Beau Phillips is President of Rainmaker Media. 
He’s a creative marketing consultant, strategist and speaker.
Reach him at 203-256-9347 

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