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Larry Rosin: Telling AM/FM Radio’s story

larry rosin contributor logo canvasThis guest column is contributed by Larry Rosin, President of Edison Research. It was first published on The Infinite Dial blog.


I spoke at Conclave last week about what we at Edison have learned from our “Share of Ear” ™ studies. After my presentation, which shows the many changes happening in the audio space but at the same time the resiliency of legacy AM/FM broadcast radio, Joel Denver from All Access raised his hand to ask:

“You show a lot of positives for radio – don’t you think radio simply needs to tell its story better?”

What follows is my best paraphrased recollection of my response:

“Joel, I have a response that’s probably controversial. I get frustrated with this argument that the only issue with radio is that it ‘doesn’t tell its story.’ The issue for radio is not that it doesn’t have a clever catchphrase, and it’s not that its CEOs don’t represent radio well.

“To me, the way radio needs to tell its story is by buying into its own B.S. and that means advertising the stations. I believe the reason advertisers nail radio with comments like ‘no one is listens to the radio anymore’ is in large part because they don’t see radio stations anymore. They don’t see stations on billboards and they don’t see stations on TV and they don’t get things in the mail and they don’t hardly ever see radio station personalities at events around town.

“If radio went back to marketing the stations and the personalities, the whole ‘perception’ issue would quickly take care of itself. Whatever the peak year was for radio station advertising – what might it have been – 1995? — does anyone want to dispute my assertion that at most radio now spends 10% on advertising that it spent in that year?

“Radio sales people would walk right into a client with the same problem and say – ‘you know how to fix your issues – you need to advertise.’ But radio has fallen for the falsehood that ‘radio stations advertise themselves.’ That’s of course true on some small level, but a radio station can only make so much noise by itself. And all the while radio laments its failure to ‘tell its story.’ Advertising the stations and the personalities would solve the problem organically.”

Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments.

Larry Rosin

One Comment

  1. I seems to me that certainly advertising radio doesn’t hurt, and if most any way of getting it out there has stopped that’s not good. But, we all know that dynamics are shifting from incredible plethora of listening options from streaming on mobile, etc. To me a very important / interesting thing to look at is the new Radio ONE (beats ONE) model that Apple is presenting in the new music service. Personally, I think radio is going to have a rebirth, but not only around geographical criteria, but other new ways of defining community. Apple for example is saying it’s “worldwide” radio…

    Either way as it related to this discussion – you’ve got to get the word out somehow and that’s a very interesting challenge in the digital age.

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