20 Years On

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The year 2003 saw the end of my love affair with Radio.

As I left my final management position in broadcasting, I somehow recognized the media I loved had changed. It was no longer the innovative, challenging, and “fun” vocation it had been during the 30 previous years. Instead, Radio had become a “bottom line” only industry. Entertaining interaction with listeners: Gone. Immediate reaction to local events with creative solutions: Gotta check with corporate first. What a way to drive a dagger into the heart of that magical medium known as Radio.

Okay, all things have a beginning and an end. I wistfully moved on to other endeavors, cherishing the many meaningful moments that comprised my Radio experience. Now on the “listener side” of Radio, I can’t help but notice how diminished that media has become.

As fate would have it, in 2012 I became involved in a software project for advertising agencies. The program we’ve developed generates advertising orders and traffic for media. So now, indirectly, I’m involved once again with Radio…but without all the headaches direct involvement would generate.

Even this association reveals the confusion that is Radio in 2023. Stations have created multiple convoluted methods to deal with the latest metamorphosis of Radio, including complex schedules that involve streaming across multiple platforms and markets. Fortunately, the software we’ve developed is able to handle all these confusing permutations.

What is troubling is that Radio has to resort to these machinations in order to survive.

Okay, I have been out the business for 20 years, and I haven’t been involved in the day-to-day decisions that have brought Radio to this point. So I can’t be too critical, yet I recall how well Radio performed for local advertisers back in “the day” regardless of the market competition.

Things have changed, but has the core of Radio changed that much? Can Radio still deliver good value to listeners and advertisers alike? And do it with style, creativity, and fun?

Perhaps it is good I left Radio 20 years ago. Were I still in that industry today, I would be exceedingly sad to be part of what it has become.