I already know that I’m going to get some comments about the fact that we are running two, count them, two stories having to do with the world of digital. “What about our core business of radio?” they will say.
And if, over the course of a month or two, our coverage favored digital over terrestrial, I would agree. Over-the-air broadcasting is and will be for some time to come our core business, our bread and butter.
However, it’s important that we understand what business we are really in. That was the vital question asked nearly 45 years ago by Alvin Toffler in Future Shock, and it is no less relevant a question today. Toffler’s example was the railroads: Those who thought they were in the railroad business were doomed to fail; those who understood they were in the transportation business could exercise myriad options to thrive and grow.
Applying that to radio, those who think they are in the terrestrial broadcasting business have limited options; those who understand they are in the content-delivery business have the world at their feet.
The only thing is, nobody has really figured out this digital thing. Every digital solution is flawed in some way; mostly it has to do with the issue of bandwidth, the outcome of which, thanks to the virtual abandonment of the concept of net neutrality, is anybody’s guess.
As we and others have said before, our best bet seems to be NextRadio, a marriage of digital and terrestrial that would be a raging success if we could just get the greedy wireless carriers on board. (Actually, the fact that they are forced competitively into offering free data for streaming may well work to our advantage. The carriers need to understand that by simply turning on the FM chip in the phone, they can save themselves those data charges.)
So I guess the prudent course for now is to continue plying our terrestrial trade, establish a beachhead online with a great website and appropriate streaming, include a digital component in every sales proposal, and make sure you upload your logo (at least) to NextRadio. These acts won’t stress your budget or your staff (too much), but you’ll be positioned to do what needs to be done, when you need to do it.