Radio and Today’s New Technology

I know, I know…he’s blogging about radio again. “Just when I think I’m out…” but today’s post in RAIN: Radio and Internet Newsletter from Kurt Hanson about “Hints in iPhone Firmware..” got me thinking back to a comment I made to a post by another blogger some time ago. It seemed relevant in light what iPhoneology  had to say so I thought I’d repost it here (with some updates).

Clearly, streaming represents a pivotal point for radio.
More and more of the business model relies on the internet and its related technology each day. The
improvement of radio streaming capabilities is imperative. It only makes sense…if
you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. I caution, and think about this; your streaming station will
join the multitude of “online stations”, stores and sites offering
entertainment. Not to mention the hundreds of other
broadcast stations that stream. Sheesh! And you thought competing with the
other sticks in town was a bitch?

Here’s a thought; beat ‘em and join ‘em?

While broadcast radio continues to find and improve those relatively new
ways to deliver product (streaming, etc.) it should also remember to make
the current delivery outlet (a receiver) more appealing. It’s scary to think
that, based on recent research, consumers feel that radio isn’t portable. Yikes, that was once one of it’s
strongest selling points. Remember ads for “portable” radios.

We can talk about the content of
radio for Days? Weeks? Months? Please, I’m aging as we speak. For purposes
of this piece let’s approach this simply from the hardware side. Sadly, much of
the blame lies with us as an industry. As technology has moved forward allowing
for once unimaginable devices for providing entertainment to be introduced, the
way we have integrated radio with those devices has stalled. When the
“Walkman” appeared in the US in 1980 it was only a matter of
what seemed like seconds that those “cassette players” had AM/FM

Though many companies have added FM receivers to their players, the
most renowned and successful brand, the “Yes, we have a 72% market share.”,  Ipod does not include a radio receiver on any
of their models. And of those brands that do offer FM receivers how often do
you hear about them? It is more likely that you will hear about those that
include an FM transmitter. A device that let’s you play the MP3 on a radio
frequency. (How are they going to record that in Arbitron ratings?)


It is important for those organizations that radio has charged
with the responsibility of furthering the industry and those companies that, by
sheer size, set standards for the industry to make sure radio remains part of
this emerging technology. Don’t let time be consumed with efforts like
complaining to the FCC about terrestrial repeaters and to, I would contend, promoting
HD radio. Instead, somebody take Steve Jobs out for lunch. “So Steve, let’s
talk about integrating radio on the Iphone…more rolls?” And don’t tell me
getting the Ipod is that important…we’ve chosen to call an entire type of audio
delivery “podcasting” for crying out loud.

Also, when was the last time we tried to get the electronics
industry to make the radio receiver “sexy”? At the risk of making it seem like
I spend too much time on the Apple site, look at the Ipod Shuffle. This little
sucker is “dead sexy”. Surely, nano technology is an opportunity for radio and new media to join together.

If and when we meet the challenge of supplying a better product technically we must market it! I know, it’s a hard pill to
swallow for an industry that has a difficult time allocating funds to tell
people about it’s own radio stations to think about spending money to advertise. (Of
course, that is a whole other discussion.) Once these hurdles are cleared let’s
talk about radio again…allot. Why should we stand by and watch Ellen give away
XM receivers to all the members of her audience? How about a really kick ass
radio compliments of….?

put it this way; According to Ipsos Insight “nearly half (46%) of teens and college-aged downloaders are interested in
portable FM radio…” and “Older American downloaders are also interested in
using their MP3 players to listen to radio broadcasts, with roughly one-third
(37%) of 25 to 54 year old downloaders interested in FM…” Give it to
them! The cool factor of any product is paramount…especially to the younger
demo. Make radio cool.

Hopefully the hints found in the iPhone firmware means that Apple will make radio, at least FM, cool again.


  1. There is absolutely ZERO consumer interest in HD Radio and iBiquity is running out of time: