Not that long ago I was in the radio business.
And I saw the handwriting on the wall that told me radio was in big trouble.
I began running around telling all my radio comrades that we needed to change the way we did business, or we were in big trouble.
Of course, they didn't want to hear that – so they didn't.
In fact, I was told my fears were silly – iPods and Satellite radio and the Internet were no threat to radio at all. That's what my corporate bosses told me, anyway.
And when I tried to explain that it wasn't fear that was motivating me, but rather the recognition of a trend that was inevitable… well, some of them laughed.
They're not laughing any more.
I've been out of the radio business for almost 4 years now, but hardly a week goes by that one of my old comrades doesn't call me and tell me how the margins are continuing to shrink, listenership continues to drop like a lead balloon, and corporate failures and layoffs are coming at an ever-increasing rate of speed.
There is good news in all this.
Radio's answer is a simple one… but not easy.
It's the same answer I was touting 5 years ago when I decided to get out that game altogether.
Here it is: make a better product.
So what does that look like?
- Pay the expense to hire good talent – and let them make radio shows that are compelling and entertaining.
- Stop playing so many commercials (in fact, I suggest you stop playing any commercials and invent a new revenue model… but that's an entire post of its own and, I'm sure, too scary for radio folks to even contemplate)
- Decide you're in it for the long haul, and stop managing to next week's “revenue number”
- Forget the ratings game and focus on the results you get for your clients instead
- Serve the community you operate in – with real community service, not the usual “lip service”
That ought to get you started, radio folks.
And it applies to almost every other suffering business or industry; you probably already know what you need to do.
The problem is, it's simple… but it's not easy.