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The state of ‘old media’ Podcasts

Is radio dying?

Well, sort of (at the moment anyway)—but probably not for good.

Historically, whenever newer media technologies have competed with older forms, both typically evolved and survived. (For radio, it’s not even the first time it has met such a challenge. You might’ve heard about last century’s breakthrough technology known as television, which some believed meant the demise of radio.)

So, what’s to become of radio in the age of new media?

My colleague Will Dube and I recently sat down to discuss “the state of radio”—and findings from my study examining listener perceptions of local radio—for a Studio 86 podcast. We touched on topics such as citizens’ satisfaction with local radio programming and community involvement, radio use by today’s youth, opinions about local music and news programming, and more.

Anyone hearing just the podcast or reading only the news release about my study might be surprised to learn that I’m actually very pro-radio (or, to clarify, I’m anti-big media, but pro-radio).

This brings me back to my opening question and response. Radio, largely in the hands of media conglomerates, is dying right now. Ultimately, though, I’m confident it’ll evolve and survive.

As stated in my study, local radio has several distinct advantages—beyond those even of many forms of new media. Radio is pervasive, portable, low-cost, easy-to-use (by producers and consumers alike), far-reaching, immediate and inherently local. (The iPod, in contrast, while having many distinct advantages all its own, scores about a two out of seven among these criteria.)

Read other highlights and policy proposals from my study, Effects of Local-Market Radio Ownership Concentration on Radio Localism, the Public Interest, and Listener Opinions and Use of Local Radio, access the full study and hear the Studio 86 podcast discussing key findings here:

RIT Study: Many Listeners Unhappy With Local Radio Programming

Next time: Behind the scenes in the development of this story

Have a great weekend!

  1. Justin Thorp
    Feb 15

    What's the radio? Just kidding. I honestly don't remember the last time that I ever listened to the radio. I don't own a car, which probably makes a difference. Even if I did, most cars today come with iPod/iPhone connectors. With ease, i can use something like Pandora to pull down whatever tunes I want wherever I am. For non-music content, that too can be easily put on or streamed right to wherever I want it. I don't see why I'd need radio.

  2. Justin Thorp
    Feb 16

    If you want to see someone who's doing an amazing job innovating this space, look at Leo Laporte (http://twit.tv). He's created numerous incredibly successful podcasts that only use the Web as a means of distribution. What's even cooler is what he's been doing lately. Not only is he disrupting the radio business with his podcasts, he's disrupting the TV business. He's broadcasting the production of all his podcasts live over the Web and it looks very CNN-esque (http://live.twit.tv/). It proves that distribution and the tools aren't so expensive that anyone can't get into the game and get a substantial number of listeners.

  3. Mike Saffran
    Feb 18

    You’re exactly right, Justin. As a “twentysomething,” you’re a prime example of one of those for whom radio is becoming—or has already come—largely irrelevant. Outside of “captive audience” situations, such as in the car, my study and others reveal a trend toward local radio’s shrinking importance. As you point out, even inside the car alternatives are rapidly expanding to include, among options, “iPod integration systems.” A study by Paragon Media Strategies discovered that half of “millennials” (those born after 1984) have reduced their in-car use of local radio; another revealed that 50 percent of 18-to-24-year-olds never use radio—anyplace! (I can almost hear broadcasters exclaiming, “Yikes!”)

    Even I (a radio fan) increasingly listen to CDs—or nothing at all—while driving. Plus, one of my former radio program directors recently introduced me to this site (sure to elicit more “Yikes” from traditional broadcasters): www.theradio.com

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