The Internet DIDN’T Kill the Radio Star (In Fact, It Made Him Wealthier)




By Frank Reed.

BugglesHere’s a quick trivia question for you. What was the first video run on MTV back in the early 80’s? It was “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Buggles (I didn’t need to look that up and two of the Buggles, Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes, went on to play with Yes for all of you progressive rock fans out there). At any rate, the idea was that with the onset of video music, Marconi’s invention (that’s the radio for those of you wondering) would die. There would no longer be any need for an antiquated medium where just voices live. Now, because the music could be seen, the radio would just ride off into the sunset.

Well, let’s fast forward to today’s world. It was announced that Rush Limbaugh (like him or hate him, he’s real so just get over it) signed a new deal with Clear Channel Communications for $400 million for eight years (Wall Street Journal, July 3, 2008) which in net terms tops even the deal that Howard Stern cut with Sirius Radio a few years back.

So with this internet thing taking over the world, how does this happen? How does a company spend so much for someone like Limbaugh? Well, folks it’s because not all marketing happens on the internet (did I hear a collective Gasp! from the MP reader ship?). Limbaugh has roughly 20 million loyal listeners who buy the products that advertise on his show.  Advertisers realize this and don’t care that maybe radio isn’t hip or cool. They care about profits and people like Limbaugh make rain when it comes to bottom line stuff. Oh and by the way, they listen online too (didn’t think those old folks had it in them did ya?).

This quote in the Journal’s article shows just how resilient and cool radio really is:

“Radio reaches about 93% of the population each week, according to Arbitron Inc., with listeners tuning in an average of about 18.5 hours. That is a decline from just over 22 hours per week 10 years ago. Radio advertising, including on radio Internet sites, totaled $21.3 billion last year, down from $21.7 billion the year before.”

How is that cool and resilient when the numbers are declining? Well, it’s simple. Radio has great opportunity to transition into the internet. I would argue even more so than video. Why? Because you can keep it on in the background and still get stuff done. When people are huddled around a desk watching something on YouTube they need to be more engaged thus taking them away from other activities completely. Radio’s ability to be in the foreground and the background all at once is phenomenal.  I am a huge sports fan so I love the fact that when I listen to Mike and Mike in the Morning on ESPN Radio in my car I can easily transition to my desk at work and continue listening online. That is cool. I don’t watch them online (which I could but why –they’re not pretty) I continue to LISTEN online.

To sum it up I would say that as internet marketers we should be looking long and hard at the power of mediums that bridge traditional and new media. The folks at Clear Channel must see some ROI here even though the numbers are staggering. I see how my habits are probably like many others so I should thinking about these things. Don’t think that the internet is the beginning and end all. It’s not. It’s going to be dominant in the very near future but it won’t be the only option.

I can’t wait to see what comes along next to try to kill radio. I bet it fails.

About Frank Reed

Frank Reed is a partner at bnr marketing in Raleigh, NC. bnr provides SEO, PPC and blog marketing services.  In addition, bnr produces SEO tools like SEMCheck for the search marketing industry. Frank’s blog on internet marketing is at www.frankthinking.com.

  • http://www.internetpeople.net/ Whitney Hill

    Right on…I might add that the intimacy that is formed by broadcasters like Rush Limbaugh create a greater trust bond than just regular endorsements. The best techniques today create and use a core of enthusiastic customers, which become evangelists for the product or service.

  • http://www.webmasterradio.fm Jim Hedger

    Whitney is exactly right. There is a greater intimacy formed through the radio than print or TV.

    The Internet has, in fact, expanded radio audiences and created new opportunities to “broadcast” and podcast on-demand content.

    It is a far more interesting medium to work in than print or video, partly because print and video are far less forgiving than radio. Radio is still the home of the “live” broadcast. Many of the shows on WebmasterRadio are live-to-air. One has no idea what is going to happen next on a live show and I think the audience senses and enjoys it, much like watching a tight-rope walker.

    While all mediums are going to be violently disrupted by the Internet, radio is the one that will remain mostly intact. Internet enhanced the radio star.

  • http://www.frankthinking.com Frank Reed

    Glad to see some folks see the same thing I do. I have just started to “own” how much I like radio over other mediums. It takes real talent to effectively talk someone through something rather than making pictures to do it. I know this sounds so old school but I guess I am. Seems to work.

    Frank Reed’s last blog post..Flash and the Search Engines – Can’t We All Just Get Along?

  • http://www.futurefactory-software.com Warenwirtschaft

    The price to contact 1000 persons with advertising is still the lowest for radio compared to tv and the internet. There is only one cheaper medium: billboards

  • http://www.jordankasteler.com/utah-seo-pro-blog/ Utah SEO Pro

    I’d like to see more bands accepting internet donations and giving away their music for free.

    Utah SEO Pro’s last blog post..Interview with SEO: Brian Carter and Search Engine Journal Post

  • http://ww.seoresults.co.za Web Marketing Man

    Radio and the internet work well together. Promoting your station’s blog via the DJ’s / announcers, who have their own blogs on the radio station’s website has proved tremendously successful.

  • http://www.jozsoft.com/blog/ Joe Hall

    I know this is about radio, but this made me think about my favorite lecture on internet piracy. Trust me this lecture is extremely eye opening.

    Joe Hall’s last blog post..Top 5 National Real Estate Franchise Web Sites

  • http://foolishmumbles.com Top Rated Digital

    The other thing about the Limbaugh example, is that people are interested in content, regardless about what the medium is. Much to Marshall McLuhan’s chagrin, sometimes the medium is not the message, but the message is what people will really listen for.

    Top Rated Digital’s last blog post..The Top 10 Digital Cameras Ripped Apart

  • http://mp3leben.com Tiffany

    Interesting fact because I think Internet and radio are competitor in information business. But this is the way how radio will keep exist.

  • http://www.greatpriceshere.com Nicole Price

    Radio, particularly the more appealing satellite version accompanies one in the car, in the kitchen in other activities without having to change records or switch channels etc. Radio in fact will grow and radio stars too!

    Nicole Price’s last blog post..Fitness Equipment: Some Good Deals

  • http://www.gadgets4nowt.co.uk PS3

    How many of us actually buy something in response to radio ads though. I can’t think that I have, not for a good few years at least.

  • http://www.poems.md Ashley

    I think it is a good way out for the radio to survive

  • http://bollywoodnation.blogspot.com/ Raman

    i think there are still many radio lovers all around the world,which will help raio survive.

    Raman’s last blog post..Free Download mp3 album-Singh Is King

  • http://www.seopositive.com/search_engine_optimisation.htm Search Engine Optimisation

    I listen to the radio for music, but, I do not take any notice of the ads on it. However the internet, and billboards, and also tv are huge ways of advertising sitll.

  • http://www.erikvossman.com Erik

    Internet radio is clunky. Plain and simple. Traditional radio, even with it’s commercials and sometimes annoying disc jokey’s is smooth. You know how it functions and when a song is coming next.

    Internet radio is hard to get playing on your nice stereo, satellite radio stinks for reception and still has annoying pauses breaks and even commercials. It’s crazy.

    Internet killing the radio is a long way off. Marketers should continue to look towards traditional media to spend their dollars.

    Erik’s last blog post..Wanna Buy Some Blogs?

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