Content comes alive! Today’s kickoff of the NAB Show began with David Rehr’s State of the Industry Address. This was the third time that the NAB CEO has delivered this address and it was quite something. One thing you have to give him is that he is a very passionate and vibrant public speaker.
His initial remarks were about YouTube. As he posed the question, “Is our business model broken?,” he counterpointed it with some sidesplitting videos from YouTube’s collection. In answer to the assertion that broadcast is dying, he pointed out the YouTube subtitle: “Broadcast Yourself.” They don’t think its dead. A very astute comment made in his address was that “we have been staring so long at the closing door in front of us that we are not seeing the one that is opening.”
To briefly paraphrase:
Radio has romance. The technology of the modern day has only changed the devices of delivery, not the magic and romance of radio’s content. People have always listened to radio in the hopes of discovering something new that they like. This is far beyond the purview of CDs or iPods. They also rely on radio for day-to-day information that is pertinent to them and their community. It is the ubiquity of radio coupled with its long history that makes people take it for granted. In spite of this, listeners were up by 3 million people over the last year.
He then formally announced Radio2020, something that should be no surprise to our faithful readers. This campaign to reposition radio in the public mind and reignite consumers’ passion for the medium is why this blog (and other efforts) exist.
Rehr likens the state of radio in the early 21st century to being the pilot of a space shuttle mission. Once a shuttle has launched, you find yourself riding a pillar of fire as turbulence shakes the craft around you until it feels as though it will fall apart. You find yourself between realms, much as radio is in the transition from old to new technologies. It is up to the pilot to hold the line and make sure that we make it into the new frontier. So it is with radio in the year 2008.