A post on the Mark Ramsey Media website headlines this dire threat: “New Survey warns: Radio must be Irreplaceable.” Mark undertook a survey of 1,000 radio listeners along with VIP Research, asking the following question:
If your local radio stations went off the air tomorrow and you had to get your news, information, and music from other sources, how would you feel about this?
A) I would be very unhappy and miss my radio stations a lot
B) It would be too bad, but I would find other ways to inform and entertain myself
C) It wouldn’t matter much to me; I can get what radio provides elsewhere
The results should give pause to PDs of all stripes, as answer “B” nosed out “A,” as shown below:
In other words, those who said they’d get by or wouldn’t care make up 63% of the study. Answers varied with sex of the respondents (men cared less) and format (News/Talk would be most missed). Mark’s conclusion:
So the lesson for us all is that while attracting usage may be relatively easy, evoking passion is a lot more difficult. And the key in this process is investing in unique and quality content that listeners care about [emphasis added].
In the long run, the best way to avoid obsolescence is to be worth missing.
The best way to avoid substitution is to be irreplaceable.
I think radio will matter to one degree or another for a good long time, even if we do nothing. But it sure won’t matter as much as it used to — unless we do something.
In the case of public radio, it seems that the logical choice would be to first ask the local listeners what they want to hear — rather than blindly follow what ratings say most people like and precipitously careen off on the next good idea that some bean counter comes up with. Or conform heedlessly to the dictates of the mass collective driving the machine.