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Why Radio Will Never Die
By: Don McLean
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Over the last couple of years the argument that radio is a waste of time and money has surfaced. We hear estimates on when radio will die. Millions of people are seen daily with iPods stuck in their ears. One could start to see where people would think radio may have a hard time continuing. Who better to speak on this topic but none other than Bob Pittman, CEO of Clear Channel Radio and founder of MTV? Last year, the Adcraft Club of Detroit brought in Pittman to speak during the advertising club’s annual Radio Day.
 
“Radio is America’s companion,” said Pittman, who commanded the stage from the start. “It’s the first social media.” Think about how social radio really is. There are disc jockeys who bring you curated content, events hosted in your local area, you can call in to interact, and now you can even tweet, message, and share with them as well. With radio advertising, it is one of the most flexible forms of media. One can change the copy of an advertisement in a single day. In radio, commercials also have many forms and for its reach is relatively inexpensive to create. Not only are they inexpensive to create but they are much less expensive to run as well. For local advertising especially, Pittman says, “Radio is the king of local.”
 
Bob Pittman also reminded us advertisers of something that we can tend to forget about: “It’s very close to the point of purchase.” Driving in a car, walking through a store, and streaming on the computer at work or home, radio is there to remind consumers about their product or service. Wouldn’t it be convenient if you were hungry and while you were driving were reminded that McDonald’s had a new juicy, tasty burger to fulfill all of your non-diet-food cravings? You are already in the car and next thing you know you spot a McDonald’s. That is the point. Radio is where consumers are. Nobody can honestly say they do not hear radio at least once a day. Whether you are walking down the street, at a store, in your car, in someone else’s car, or just about anywhere else, radio is there.
 
In speaking about digital radio Pittman let us in on a little secret, saying, “Digital is 5% of radio listening, it’s just the beginning.” Clear Channel Radio-owned iHeartRadio has helped change online radio listening by allowing you to listen to over 1,500 live radio stations online. Compared to some of the other "radio" sites such as Pandora and Spotify, he says they are “massive collections, not radio.” Pittman reminded us again why live radio will always work and always be a viable advertising medium, radio is social. He explained why radio is social in six points saying, radio:
  1. Is curated
  2. Changes constantly
  3. Has human beings to bond with the audience
  4. Has big brands with strong, loyal audiences
  5. Local content, promotion, and events
  6. Has an interactive relationship with the audience

The biggest takeaway from the meeting was, everybody has a radio. While radio may no longer be the first thing everyone thinks of, it is where everyone is. How many times a day do you hear a radio? Once you start really paying attention you may be surprised.  



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About the Author
Don McLean, MBA is an account supervisor at Airfoil Group, an independent marketing and public relations firm serving tech companies and innovation-centric brands with offices in Detroit, New York and Silicon Valley. Follow Don on twitter at@mclean_don.  
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