Jim Poh is Vice President of Analytics and Media Planning at Crispin Porter & Bogusky. They handle radio ads for Burger King and Dominos.
Poh states in today’s New York Times that consolidation of radio companies has resulted in sound-alike stations.
He claims this is a big part of the reason advertising is way down on radio.
And the claim makes sense.
There is very little to draw listeners back to many stations.
Once morning shows, great jocks and exciting contests all done with the right music and some creative marketing set stations apart.
Today there are few points of difference between stations.
A cluster that includes two rock stations makes sure they stay out of each others way. Twenty years ago those same two stations would be fighting to the death to win the ratings.
The great country battles are gone.
KILT vs KIKK in Houston were literally locked into brutal hand to hand combat and each .5 gain in the ratings was something to be celebrated.
Houston also had a great CHR battle at that time with KKBQ and KRBE. Both great stations with excellent talent.
Market after market had radio ‘war’s’ taking place.
The listener and advertisers were the benefactors.
The listener got exciting well focused radio entertainment.
The advertiser got stations that promoted their own product heavily thus adding ears to hear the advertiser message.
Poh is right. Radio does sound alike.
Replacing local talent with Ryan Seacrest and John Tesh on every station in America is not the answer.
Consolidation and cost cutting are turning the radio dial into a vast waste land.
Listeners are caring less and less about radio, so why would advertisers buy the medium?
Once we take away all the reasons to listen we’ll be left with a bunch of useless transmitters and worthless licenses.
Radio operators seem to miss the point that there is way more competition today than ever. The internet and IPODs were not in existence a few years ago.
The internet alone opens up enormous opportunity for audio entertainment and information. Most of which have yet to be created.
Radio owners will tell you HD is the answer. But the only answer in a world with more competition is to have better content.
Music can’t be considered content. Radio operators don’t own the songs.
The staff cutbacks might be necessary for companies to meet their covenants. Miss the payment to the bank and well you aren’t only without a staff but you’re without a business for that staff.
But in the end, radio must get very serious about creating content and competing in the new world.
The rules have changed. Radio groups are living in a pre IPOD, internet age.
Content is the only hope.
Let’s hope it’s not too late.
Judging by those stock prices, it might be.