Is Radio a Thing of the Past?

Note: This post is taken from a homework assignment I wrote for my senior Media Influence class. I thought I would post it here to share some thoughts on the current status of the radio industry.

I, myself, listen to the radio on a regular basis whether it is in the car, in my kitchen cooking or in my room cleaning the radio is usually on. I enjoy a various mix of stations from NPR to Z100 and my local hip-hop station. Although I am an avid radio listener it looks as if I am one of the few radio listeners of our time. Radio is in decline specifically among the young and is now the number three medium among 12-24 year old when it used to be number one. Also, radio was an $18 billion industry a decade ago and todays it’s a $15 billion industry according to Radio Ink Magazine.

There are many different reasons for the decline in radio and many of them came about when the Internet started to expand. With the invention of the Internet and the iPod, and other mp3 players, came an endless amount of options for listening to music. People are now able to stream music from sites such as Spotify, Pandora and YouTube, download music from iTunes, make playlists on their iPods and scroll through music blogs to find new music. All of these personalized options make radio seem outdated and of no use. Streaming has become the new way to listen to music, the article “Pandora and Spotify Rake in the Money and Then Sent It Off in Royalties” states, “At least 33 million people have tried Spotify, and more than 150 million have registered for Pandora.” These numbers are huge considering how young these sites are.

During my research I focused on Clear Channel Media and Entertainment because of their huge monopoly on the radio industry. On their website they state, “With 243 million monthly listeners in the U.S. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment has the largest reach of any radio and television outlet in America.”

It’s not so much that radio is losing a massive amount of people from their audience but that they’re on their way to doing so and they need to come up with preventative measures to stop it from happening. According to the article, “Aggregators Help Radio Reach Online Audiences” from the New York Times by Ben Sisario, John Hogan, Chief executive of Clear Channel Media and Entertainment said, “98 percent of listening to Clear Channel’s stations are still on its terrestrial signals. But it (the online audience) is growing quickly. According to Triton Media, a company that measures Internet radio audiences, Clear Channel’s online audience has risen 117 percent in the last year.” Again, this proves the switch to online listenership is growing rapidly.

It is clear that people still want to listen to the radio, which is evident by the increase in XM satellite subscribers as well as Pandora listeners. “Measuring Growth in Dollars and Page Views” by Ben Sisario states, “Pandora now has 67 million listeners each month — a third more than it had a year ago — and Sirius XM now has nearly 24 million paying subscribers.” This shows that people are willing to pay for radio, although XM Satellite stations are different in that they don’t have commercial advertisements and there are more options of different stations tailored to specific tastes, as is the case with Pandora stations. The next step seems to be finding what listeners want and creating ways to give that to them through radio.

Companies involved in radio such as Clear Channel are being proactive in keeping radio alive. One thing Clear Channel did was revamping its iHeart radio app in order to compete with Pandora. This new, improved app gives users access to 10 million songs, which is several million song more than Pandora’s selection. Like Pandora, the iHeart app allows you to stream music from specific genres, which is one of the most loved aspects of Pandora. With more song selections and fewer advertisements this improved app is sure to be one of Pandora’s biggest competitors. By keeping up with competitors and going a step above them, radio will be able to rise above the decline.

Work Cited:

McNeill, Brian. “Report: Clear Channel Targets Pandora with Revamped App.” SNL Kagan Media & Communications Report(2011)ProQuest. Web. 21 Mar. 2013.

Sisario, Ben. “Aggregators Help Radio Reach Online Audiences.” The New York Times: B.1. Aug 06 2012. ProQuest. Web. 21 Mar. 2013

"Radio Ink - Radio’s Premier Management & Marketing Magazine." Radio Ink Magazine. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Mar. 2013.

Sisario, Ben. “Pandora and Spotify Rake In the Money and Then Send It Off in Royalties.” The New York Times. N.p., 24 Aug. 2012. Web. 21 Mar. 2013.

Sisario, Ben. “Digital Notes: Measuring Growth in Dollars and Page Views.” New York Times. N.p., 26 Jan. 2013. Web. 21 Mar. 2013.

"Clear Channel Communications, Inc." Clear Channel Communications, Inc. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Mar. 2013.