The Local Media Advantage – Radio

I have this nagging feeling that radio’s competitive advantage is going to come from establishing a new relationship with the audience, not necessarily being the creator of the content – which commercial radio does not do extensively.

In a world where everyone is distributing content on everyone else’s channel it seems that differentiating yourself based on content creation will be difficult. I also wonder given the massive reduction in the cost of tools to create professional content, and the evolution of licenses to distribute and share this material, whether the world will soon be awash in new and diverse content.

That means two things. Some people will want filtered content and some people will want distribution. Stations can win in either – or both games – if they redefine their role and look beyond audio to see how video and print can be used to enhance the audience relationship. Of course this means a web intensive strategy (as opposed to HD radio) but it has the advantage of being in line with general technology evolution, consumer spending and in fact radio’s real strengths.

As a highly personal medium, serving geographically limited areas, radio should have an edge over every other mass media for this ‘converged content’ delivery. The smaller geographically co-located audience means stations don’t have to cater to the diversity that national media does. As well because on-air content is delivered in short chunks the risk associated with an occasional selection to cater to specific segments is lower than competing media – and if supported by on-line material can become compelling for all listeners. Finally the ability of the on-air personality to conversationally link on-air and on-line content is more compelling because that recommendations seems directed specifically to that listener – not an viewing audience or anonymous reader.

It is a powerful story but it requires both harkening back to the days of diversity and personality on-air and embracing modern technology to segment, enhance and monetize the relationship.

Originally posted as a comment Dec 10, 2005