Perspectives on the Radio Business from Last Week’s Show

I asked a few people whom I met with at the Radio Show last week to write up their thoughts on the show. This article is written by Joe Gallagher, someone I’ve long considered a friend and mentor in the business:

It used to be that one of the reasons you went to the Radio Show was to see where the industry was and where it was headed. This year, like the past few,  it was more to see how  the industry is dealing with the challenges it faces.

The sentiment I came away with is that there is an acceptance of the fact that “digital” is not going to go away, and that every broadcaster must have a digital strategy. Is this embracing digital? No, it’s accepting reluctantly, but that’s better than denying, which has been the sentiment until recently. Having the RAIN Summit, focused entirely on Internet radio, as a kick off to the Radio show, plus a slate of digital sessions is clear evidence that progress is being made.

There is a great deal of noise about what broadcasters’ digital strategies ought to be, although I doubt anyone who was in Washington this week would deny that “mobile” is a critical element. It may even rival “social” for the top buzz word position. So where do broadcasters get their digital strategies, and what should those strategies include? It seems as if vendors are influencing  those decisions with their solutions,  more than broadcasters are determining what they are, and then executing on them.

While there are still lots of consultants to help with digital strategy it’s interesting that many of them now have their own products or services for some portion of the digital solution. Is objectively guiding and directing (consulting) the primary focus?

There is a lot of good research on digital  from all perspectives for Broadcasters. BIA Kelsey for one, has very extensive data on local digital spending, industry trends, mobile adoption, digital competitors, and much more.  So the information on which to make intelligent decisions, exists. However there is not a playbook, or “how to” guide. There is a good bit of confusion, and I get the feeling that many broadcasters are throwing things against the wall, hoping something will stick. That’s better than not taking any action, but is it as good as spending the time, energy and money on developing your own carefully thought out digital strategy?

Joe Gallagher, Managing Director, Angel Street Capital.  Angel Street Capital assists digital media companies in the early stages of their life cycle providing both consulting services and capital.

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