I'm here to report that the sky is not falling. After three intensive days with the world's leading experts on digital media and advertising, I'm here to report that all is well in radio. Like a burning beam of argon focused on a single point of steel, these experts, employed in the single task of pondering radio's present and future, have concluded that radio is not dying.
You knew it all along.
When great minds are locked in a room and asked to create a singular focus, the outcome in usually one of great gloom or real optimism -- and few, if any, at this week's Radio Ink Convergence felt radio's sky is falling. That sense of optimism came even from those who would benefit from radio's demise, or who would benefit from having us believe our future is dim.
You knew it all along.
But maybe a slight seed of doubt had entered your frontal cortex and begun to slowly grow as you wondered if, by chance, radio IS dying. Game face on, you've projected the belief that the threats of our demise were unfounded. But deep inside, the seed remained. "Maybe there is something to this.... but who has time to be concerned with these things?"
A car runs a light and is heading straight for you at 60 miles per hour. You believe for a split second that it isn't really happening. You utter a micro-second prayer, hoping to survive. When the car misses you by a fraction of an inch, you exhale with relief, eyes closed, grateful your prayers were answered this time. You vow to change. But your confidence soon returns, and nothing changes -- until the next time you're given a second chance.
Radio's second chance is before you at this moment. Experts predict radio's future with optimism, but they also believe you stand at a crossroads. Turn to the left, and face rocks, climbs, deep wading, and uncertainty. Turn to the right, and there's a straight, clear path ahead with the status quo.
Those who are building alternative radio platforms and who hope to take it all away from you are counting on you to turn to the right. They are counting your raw confidence and your steadfast belief in our current way of radio life, on your believing that the status quo is the right way and that things will somehow work out. Will radio cling to its past? Or will radio be willing to take the road less followed, where self-initiated challenges lie?
I believe more than ever that radio has a bright future and that it is in a solid, secure position to achieve incredibly lucrative new heights. But I'm also more convinced than ever that radio's sole mission at this moment is to become entwined with digital media platforms like two twisted strands of DNA.
It's not possible to articulate the depth of data that drew me to this conclusion. Our visiting radio siblings entered the conference like dry land and left saturated like the Mississippi Delta after the levy was blown. They don't know what hit them, they cannot articulate everything they have learned, the rush of data has flooded their brains, but they return to their posts empowered to make changes be based on newly acquired instincts. And they are convinced, beyond doubt, that action is what will keep the sky from falling and that inaction, the status quo, is what will make it fall. They know the choice they must make.
Our future can be bright. But, as one speaker commented, "This generation of radio managers will need to die off before true change can occur in radio. They are too deeply entrenched in their ways of thinking to move to the same level as those in the new world of media, and by then it will be too late."
Don't let it happen. Our sky won't fall if we take that left turn now, if we shift our thinking and become an integrated digital-radio industry. Advertisers don't just think this digital media thing is cool, they are walking away from any media that cannot offer deep digital integration. It's undeniable.
Like you, I'd rather cling to the ways I know. It's easier -- for a while. But the approaching freight train's horn is blasting as it's trying to get you off the track. I guarantee that's clear to the majority of people who attended this conference. Though some entered determined to prove these theories wrong and left with the same attitude, most are determined to start down that road less followed.
Which road will you choose?
There are no words to describe the Convergence experience this year, our best yet, I believe. I do want to express thanks to the many speakers and to the sold-out room of people who took time away from their busy lives to open their minds to new possibilities. You are the true rebels, misfits, and revolutionaries. Thank you.
Also thank you to the following sponsors who paved the way to make this conference possible. Please support them. They believe in radio and the possibilities that lie before us.
Abacast, Broadcast Electronics, Dot.fm, GreenOwl Mobile, iBiquity Digital Corp., Intertech Media, Jacobs Media, MediaSpan Online, NAB, Presslaff Interactive Revenue, Progreps, Rovi, SESAC, TargetSpot, Triton Digital
B. Eric Rhoads is CEO of Streamline Publishing, Inc. Rhoads writes regular columns for his publications and is an active blogger in the radio and art industries, including Radio Ink Tank, Artist Marketing, and Blue Chip Gallery Marketing. He is an active speaker, consultant, and advocate in the radio, art, and technology industries, and he sits on a number of advisory boards. Eric can be reached at eric@RadioInk.com.
Read all Eric’s MediaBizBloggers commentaries at Ink Tank with B. Eric Rhoads.
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