2017 is going to be a weird year for radio

I’m not exactly sure what to expect from 2017.  I don’t know if anyone can predict what will happen next.  To me… what will likely happen (*plus a lot of random thoughts):

** Podcasting will continue to grow as an emerging medium.  In September, Ken Doctor published his thoughts to Nieman Lab called Inside the business of the podcasting boom, which to me was the standout article for the year.  You can look at podcasting as a stand alone industry.  I saw it first hand this year at the Podcast Movement conference in Chicago.  If you’re interested in my notes from the conference, you can find them here, and here,  and here, and here… and here.

After talking to a lot of podcasters, I realized that the bar was set extremely different for everyone.  Some people were happy with 500 downloads a podcast, while others were looking to break 10,000 downloads… while trying to find that secret to the magical 50,000 downloads an episode mark.

What I’ve come to realize is that radio is having a hard time converting their audience to downloads.  I think part of the problem is trying to do the same thing over and over again… expecting different results.  As a radio programmer, it’s going to be very important to identify ‘different’ styles that might not work on-air, but will translate to a broader audience on-line.  The quirky, the funny, the dorky… the science-y… think about what would make a great headline (that would you to click on an article) and then having someone to actually back it up with some entertaining content for a worth while pay-off.

I think in radio, we rip and read so often that we don’t have any authority to pull off an effective pay-off to the catchy headline.  So the things we try to convert to on-line content often fail.

What we need to do is categorize what we’re doing on-line and align ourselves with the standard that’s already set with the podcasting community.  Call it a talk show if you’re doing a talk show.  But don’t try to produce the next Serial if all you’re doing is creating a talk show that reads headlines… because it’s not going to work.

Radio is a year behind on ‘content curation’ because we didn’t take it as serious as we needed to in 2016.  But we can change that in 2017.

** Radio will fall further behind on the video trends.  YouTube is changing.  It’s starting to favor longer form entertainment in an attempt to compete with the likes of Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.  As a result, TV will have a HUGE advantage in capturing audiences.  Unless your personalities are prepared to market themselves as entertainers with a visual component, they’re going to lose out on this audience and only produce minimal numbers.

** We’re reaching the next level of multi-media talent.     “Back in my day… we played records and carts, and you had just one job and that’s all you had to do.”    “Back in my day… we played CDs and doubled as engineers.”  → “Back in my day we didn’t have to do 3 jobs at once, but that’s just the way it is now…”  “Back in my day, we were told to maintain a digital audience.  We had enough on our plate and didn’t have time.”  

Luckily I think companies are starting to figure out that building a digital audience is going to be a top priority to building non-traditional revenue, and the talent that knows how to engage that audience will be extremely valuable.


About Ryan Wrecker

I'm an award winning radio programmer, news anchor, talk show host, digital guru and problem that currently serves as a writer for Radio Ink Magazine. My blog (RyanWrecker.com) is designed to help personalities advance themselves through content creation. Follow me on Twitter @RyanWrecker
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One Response to 2017 is going to be a weird year for radio

  1. Naked in Radio says:

    Yeah it will be weird; if we quit listening to the national predictions and start worrying about our local markets some of us might actually have a record year. Tired of the negative? Focus on your market positivity!