Living In The Bubble

I prefer to live in my own little bubble of my own reality. – Lauren Lee Smith

Grand Ole Opry Resort

I’m sitting on the balcony of my room at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, catching up on some work. The weather is beautiful, but then again it’s always beautiful because of the glass dome covering the entire hotel.  It’s sunny outside now, but it could become cloudy or even rain and I wouldn’t know it.  While I’m here I’m living in a bubble where everything is always perfect.

It’s the same way we want to think about radio. We’re living in a bubble where radio will always be as strong as it is, disruption will hit everything else but leave radio alone, and Millennials will soon grow up and become responsible…and then start listening more to radio.  The primary purpose of social media is to support radio, and streaming is only meant for the station signal.

Baby boomers will never grow old and retire or die, and will have more than enough money to donate, even when they are on social security. Millennials will suddenly be inspired to write a monthly check to support nonprofit radio stations.

Well, the problem with being in a bubble is that you wind up leaving it sooner or later.  I’ll get on an airplane, fly back to California, and be deposited in another world without the bubble.  There will be sunshine, but there will also be storms and rain.  There will be fires in the surrounding counties and the same people will be waiting for San Francisco to slide into the bay so they’ll have beachfront property.

Radio will continue with an extraordinarily strong reach, but clear trending down in time spent listening. Millennials will continue to contribute up to 18 hours a day to media, but the majority to Social Media that isn’t in support of radio.  Cars will continue to have dashboards that evolve in such a way to cause it harder to find the radio.  Radio IS being disrupted and will continue to be.

This isn’t a downer, unless you want to continue to convince yourself you live in a bubble that doesn’t exist. This is a call to a new reality that we need to address and strategize about.  Our efforts have to cover a spectrum of media, and be based in engagement, community and relationship.

Roads To Nowhere

“If you don’t know where you’re going you might wind up somewhere else.” – Yogi Berra

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I was cruising along the freeway on one of those amazing “sun break” Friday’s in Seattle when I saw a freeway exit that didn’t go anywhere.  It was just a blocked off dead-end exit ramp.  There was a lot of poor government planning and financial problems involved, but being a fan of metaphors I couldn’t help think about radio’s future.

I’ve been involved in a major project since January looking at Millennials, and it’s very sobering.  There are a lot of stories in the trades about the reach radio has with that generation, but you don’t see a lot of them talking about their shrinking TSL.  You don’t see any articles about their use of radio in context with their use of other media.  It’s as if we boomers don’t know any Millennials or see their actual media use.

These people are digital natives, and are in almost continual use of media, averaging around 11 hours a day.  But they are multi-media consumers, not single media consumers.  Considering radio’s financial model, that’s disconcerting.

There are plenty of off ramps on the media highway, but we’re not using them for what they are.  All of our social media, community building, video and such, is built around reinforcing radio, not complimenting it.  The answers are there, but someone needs to act on them.

The cool part about the coming convergence between digital and media is that those startup costs are much less than buying a major market signal.  Again, the answers are there, but someone needs to act on them.

I Guess I’m Glad I’m Not On The Air

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“However you make your living is where your talent lies.” – Ernest Hemingway

I used to worry about whether I could “hit the post” or not.  Or if I could come up with something worth hearing.   If it was a really good break, sometimes the GM would poke his head in the door and say something.  I really loved being on the air.

Now, in a world of continual partial attention, and diminishing interest from the higher ups, I can’t imagine being on-air.

That’s why I admire the people I meet who are dedicated to being the best they can be.  They’re just as enthusiastic and having the time of their lives.  They care about what they’re doing.

So I just wanted to say thanks, you’re keeping radio alive when ownership and other media have given up on you.  I know you feel strongly about creativity in radio.  I wish people had a better understanding of the value of talent relative to the music but I’m not sure they do.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “It’s all about the music.”  Or met on-air people who seem to just be “doing their time.”

But many of you defy that.  You’re doing what you know will relate and be relevant, and I admire you more than any media mogul I know of.