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Saturday, January 9, 2010

For all of you that really love radio, but hate what radio has become....

We Don't Need New Year's Resolutions

A Message from Radio Ink Publisher Eric Rhoads

I'm back. After three weeks of playing hooky, assembling Christmas presents with my kids, lying on the floor playing with toys, sleeping late, not shaving, spending some time on the boat, avoiding e-mail, watching a few movies, and generally ignoring business, I return enthusiastic about 2010 and eager to get things done. As one group head said at our Forecast Conference in December, "After a year of business being off by 40 percent, a mere 5 percent increase can seem like a boom." A new year brings new hope.

Dear Abby

For some reason this week has been consumed with calls from people who want my opinion about "what's next" for radio. I feel like Dear Abby. I'm hearing from the press, the banks, investors, and even a couple of group heads. "What will be the outcome of the Citadel bankruptcy? Who's next? What will the industry look like in six months?" There have been loads of questions. I even had someone ask me about my new year's resolutions.

My e-mail box has been filled with the annual hype from motivational speakers, telling me how to set and achieve my goals for the year, how to make a plan.

Here's my plan:

1. Think differently.

2. Question everything.

3. Challenge every assumption and tradition.

4. Stop repeating ineffective behavior.

5. Have more fun.

What If?

What would radio companies look like if they followed that advice?

What if they stopped repeating the things they've been doing for the last 10 years -- things that are taking them nowhere?

What if they stopped clinging to the way things used to be -- or the way things were supposed to be, that simply never worked?

What if they were bold, brave, and broke tradition and tried something so radical that they turned the world we live in upside down?

Here's a news flash:

Recasting balance sheets through bankruptcy is not going to solve the problems in the industry. Sure, it will remove some pressure. But will those same companies operate any differently? Will they invest in something new? Will fresh people be making decisions? Or will the same financial people continue to drive board decisions? Will they truly reinvent the way radio is done? No. It's too risky.

Sorry, We're Not Coming Back

Those of you who are feeling that the economy is turning and that business will "be back" soon are probably not paying close enough attention to the fact that the recession forced small and big business owners to the Internet. It worked, and a large portion of them won't return to traditional media. Last week I heard about a major ski resort that killed its multimillion-dollar marketing budget because it was exceeding its bookings through a Facebook page alone.

The Curse of Being Traditional

Don't get me wrong. A lot of business will return, but the world we live in has changed forever. And when the economy finally gets healthy again (we can only hope), we may learn that it's healthier for other sectors than for those we call "traditional media." If we cannot escape being traditional, we will indeed be old news.

Rupert Murdoch recently said that traditional television and cable outlets can no longer expect to make their money from advertising. What if he's right? What will you do if you can't make your money from advertising?

The Rumors of Radio's Death Are Exaggerated

No, advertising on radio won't disappear. Radio won't die. Unlike newspapers, we never lost our audience. According to Arbitron, audience erosion hasn't even been significant in the last 10 years. But advertising as we know it has changed. Will you get ahead of the curve or remain behind it? Either way, radio will survive -- but why wait until it bottoms out before you take action and make changes in how you do business?

"The price of being a sheep is boredom. The price of being a wolf is loneliness. Choose one or the other with great care." -- Hugh McLeod

No More Resolutions

Radio does not need a new set of annual goals or resolutions. They haven't worked the last 10 new years anyway, and there is no reason to believe repeating the behavior will change anything now. Perhaps it's just time to change the way we think, question everything we do, challenge every assumption and tradition, and eliminate ineffective behavior.

Eric Rhoads

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