April 21, 2009

More People Listening to Radio Online

Should radio be concerned over a greater increase of listeners on the Internet within the past year?

Arbitron and Edison Media Research released a report recently suggesting that 17% of the U.S. audience is listening to some radio online. That translate to about 42 million people across America. Their report also states that 32% of teens and persons 18-24 say they are spending less time with over-the-air radio specifically due to time spent with IPods and other portable MP3 players.

Surfing through the blogosphere I came across this from Hear 2.0: Society needs the comfort of our favorite songs. We need the real-time connection to our community (however we define "community"). We need to know what to wear today and whether or not school is cancelled. We need to stay up to date or to revel in our past. We need to be outraged and informed and soothed and amused. We need to be told what to do in a crisis. We need to know what's on sale and where. And we need these things wherever we are - at home, at work, in the car, and on our hip.

Might I add that radio does this better than any other medium at the moment in our society or community. But it also seems like the phone is actually terrestrial radio's main competition rather satellite radio. The Hear 2.0 comment makes a lot of sense in light of the explosion of the social media site Twitter, which is nothing more than a large list of text messages coming together in one social environment. An Ipod can not compete in that context. Neither can most "Internet radio stations", like Last FM, Pandora, or even Internet conference calling, better known as BlogTalkRadio. So the trick is to figure out how to bring the "tweet" concept to radio. It surely can't happen through the disconnectedness that radio syndication brings to the listening audience.

So it's not a matter of if radio should be concerned, it's a matter of what society needs and what medium will effectively be able to provide it. An 'I Heart Radio' and 'CBS Radio' app is just a start, but terrestrial radio you need to get an FM radio tuner on phones that people can download, and quick!

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