Radio Puberty

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Radio has been with us for a century now, and in my opinion, the medium is still a teenager. Now please bear with me as I explain.

Let us begin with the words of David Martin at N=1, a thoughtful and insightful blogger with an eye on our industry. In a recent post he says:

Readers of this blog are familiar with my pov. There has never been a time of greater opportunity than today. We are living in an age where the quality, quantity and diversity of audio and video is reaching new, unprecedented levels. There’s a lot of really good stuff happening out there, folks playing at the top of their game producing truly remarkable work. Yes, we live in disruptive times. Yes, the rule sets are changing. No, the business as usual of today is not producing the results of yesterday. We can complain, scream at the rising tide, get involved in rants bashing how things are without suggesting alternatives or we can get involved. We can stay engaged in the futile efforts of getting better at playing defense or we can get different, get proactive and serious about game-changing innovation.

Astutely observed and taken to heart. This is one of the chief reasons that I view Radio2020 as an important effort. It is time to re-energize the fans, the stations, and the very industry itself. Like any change, radio’s current evolution will at times be messy and chaotic, but so is any organic process. Much like puberty.

In my own opinion, radio is a teenager right now, and the new technologies represent growth spurts into adulthood. Sure, some of the approaches and technologies have a few pimples, and there are way too many demands for the car keys, but by and large, radio seems to be growing up well.

Straddling the digital divide, radio streams music around the world via the Internet, while traditional broadcast reaches areas where the Internet has barely penetrated. New devices allow the addition of iTunes tags and other metadata while the newest cutting edge cell phones in India and Asia (huge and growing markets) have integrated FM receivers as standard equipment. In so many ways, it mirrors the average American teenager, caught between adulthood and the cradle and partaking of each in almost equal measure.

It has been a long time since Nikola Tesla’s original wireless research in 1891. FM was supposed to be the death of AM radio. It was not. TV was supposed to spell the death of all radio, AM and FM. See how that worked out? It’s never obvious or expected. The real world just does not work that way.

So as I sit here listening to my local radio station through my iPod’s FM tuner, I just grin to myself that the future is here.

Radio. It’s growing up fast, but I still won’t give it the car keys on Saturday night!

Stay Tuned!

Photo courtesy of Made Underground, used under its Creative Commons license

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