October 14, 2019

Many wonder what radio will look like in 5 years. The media industry is always evolving. New ways, methods and mediums are introduced and change how we consume media. While radio is getting 'attacked' on many fronts, it is not going anywhere. To continue to thrive, radio will need to change with the times.In order for radio to be more attractive than other sound alternatives and to retain more of its existing audience, it must realize some things first. Radio must not rest on its laurels and continue to beat its chest about the percentage of people it reaches on a weekly basis if it wants to continue to be an effective medium in the future.

Here's what radio will look like in 2025:

  1. The formats that will rise will be the ones catering specifically to audiences who are less tech savvy. Spanish language radio could be the big winner here. Also, formats targeting aging Boomers will succeed.
  1. Ratings will no longer carry the weight that it does now with the media buying community. Instead, advertisers and media buyers will hold stations accountable and will make decisions based on results rather than a station's Average Quarter Hour persons or Cume audience.
  1. FM stations may evolve in a couple different directions. There may be stations that will lose the personalities and be 100% music focused. The other direction will be FM stations that will be focused on all talk or other non-music programming.
  1. In order for radio stations to survive, radio stations must not be focused solely on their over the air programming. Radio stations will need to emphasize their digital streaming and other digital elements as their main source of income. In 5 years, what radio will look like will be digital dollars exceeding over-the-air dollars.
  1. You may have noticed how Sirius XM has stations that air The Today Show, CNN etc. on their individual stations. Terrestrial radio will take a page out of that idea. Much of the non-music content on TV will be simulcast on terrestrial radio. This will extend the distribution for TV content at a comparatively low cost. CNN, FOX, MSNBC, E! without pictures will all be on a radio station near you. This will be what radio will look like over the next several years.
  1. Stations will be in a much stronger position to target. Stations realize that their primary value is in their audiences. Radio - almost like a data company - will have access to names, email addresses and behaviors so they can treat listeners as individuals. This way advertisers will be able to market directly to these individuals with minimum waste. This is already happening in some shape already with Entercom Radio. This way, stations will be able to connect the right listeners with the right marketers. Thus, providing value that vastly exceeds anything radio has ever provided before. Radio's goal would be to match anything Google or Facebook can offer on a local level.

Radio has survived many media onslaughts throughout the years. First, it was television back in the 1950s. The prediction then was that radio won't be able to survive a medium that offers audio with pictures. Now, it has been surviving the onslaught of Apple Music, Amazon Music, iTunes, Siriux XM Radio, Spotify, Pandora and others. However, in order to survive this latest 'attack', we believe that Radio cannot ignore what is happening now. Radio cannot position themselves to the ad community that all is okay. Instead, radio will need to re-invent itself as we listed here. We think they will. And, in the end, all - listeners, advertisers and media buyers - will appreciate the new offerings of radio as it evolves into more of a streaming and digital play.Carolina Macedo, the author, is Project Coordinator of Marketing Keys. Carolina - a Millennial - rarely listens to terrestrial radio. She is looking forward to seeing how radio evolves.

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October 14, 2019