I don't mean to give away professional secrets, but San Diego radio stations get together periodically to ascertain the "State of the Radio Business" in the market. It's not like we're conspiring, or anything, but we just talk about Best Practices and stuff. The organization has undertaken a formal study of the perception of the radio business, through the point of view of some large, local advertisers.
[SIDENOTE: Of course, Jazz 88.3 does not carry advertising, but we do seek and enjoy the financial support of local businesses who appreciate the value of the service we provide. From that standpoint, the thoughts of the "advertising community" are important to us, too. We are, after all, players.]
Anyway, without sounding like we're patting ourselves on the back, at least according to these advertisers, Radio, as a medium, is doing just fine, thankyouverymuch! With the advent of mp3 players, streaming music services, and "Internet radio," the profession has struggled with the fear that radio, as we have all grown up, knowing it, is going the way of the newspaper. Well, if these advertisers are any indication of the public' perception at large, that's just not the case. One advertiser said, "The listener relationship with radio is the strongest of any medium." Another one said, “The connection with the listener differentiates it.” Finally, probably my favorite quote is, “Listeners are passionate about radio.”
That's what I feel about Jazz 88.3 - every single day, with every single show. Not only are the hosts and staff passionate about what we do; our listeners are! We get phone calls and emails every day from people, congratulating us for music choices they like, and castigating us for tracks they don't. Our listeners are not passive receivers of the sounds that we send out. They pay attention, comment, and try to influence what we do. One listener called and spent ten minutes telling me of the affront imposed on the audience by a particular host pronouncing "New Orleans" as two separate words!
As a result of the research that the Radio Broadcasters did, a marketing specialist drew this comparison:
Television is a drug. Radio is a companion.
If you think about it, that's a pretty apt description. You get home after work, grab a little dinner, and turn on the tube in order to tune out. Mindless entertainment (or even educational material or news and information) is a distraction from the issues that hang around in your life. Radio, on the other hand, is a choice, music and information that you take with you, when you drive, possibly when you work, even when you play, whether at the beach or the ball park. Radio goes with you, because you want it to.