The days when you could program a radio station with tons of music and win are ending.
Content is king and it’s what will drive radio programming.
IPODs have doomed music radio as we know it. Radio can’t compete with ‘my music, programmed my way’.
The trend has already begun. Clear Channel adds Ryan Seacrest to their CHR stations including midday on Z100 New York.
Loosely networked programs done in a flexible format allow many music stations to program a Seacrest and others while keeping the local station’s identify.
It’s not just happening in smaller towns.
Major market PDs are now faced with piecing together programming from several sources onto one station brand. Elvis Duran mornings, Seacreast midday and probably others to follow evenings and nights.
The job of the PD is less about programming and more about packaging the station.
Australian stations have already started this type of networking. Austereo’s stations have carried The Top 30 Countdown each night for years. Now other programs in more dayparts have followed.
It makes economic sense.
Radio comes full circle.
Networks ruled until television arrived in the 1950s.
Now networking becomes a necessity to compete and bring better talent to more stations.
The talent farm is barren.
But really good people will have a chance to be heard on many more stations.
The weaker people might have to find another career.
Worse than fewer good disc jockeys being available is the lack of really good programming talent.
It’s hard to create thousands of interesting stations when only a handful of good PDs are left. There is little opportunity to grow new ones.
Networking allows owners to change the job of the PD from creative thinker to implementer. Not necessarily a great career path and cheaper on the payroll.
Radio went through phase one of the ‘talent shakedown’ after consolidation.
Standby for phase two.
This will be the era of really big change.
The station that bucks the trend and stays local and true to its community can still win.