It’s dangerous to try to predict what any specific technology will look like even 5 years in the future. It’s safer to look at trends. My many friends in radio have spent a great deal of time in the past few years worrying about the impact “satellite radio,” and the more recently launching HD Radio will have on the size of their listening audience. I don’t believe the future challenge lies with either of these technologies.
A recent article in USA Today offers a glimpse into the future. The combination of internet access in automobiles and WI-Max (wide area wireless internet access) or something even more advanced will put a whole new world of listening experience in the hands of drivers.
There are over ten thousand on-line radio stations available right now from sites like Live 365 and a nifty program called Pandora allows you to custom build your own radio station. While no one station may ever attract have a large audience, if each station only claims a few listeners in each market there’ll be a lot few listeners listening to “traditional radio” in the future. And that’ll make it much more difficult for advertisers to reach a large audience easily.
I don’t consider myself an early adopter by any means. But I spend most of my time listening to WCPE out of Raleigh Durham, NC (a “traditional” radio station with a large Internet presence). I could listen to a classical station out of Milwaukee or Chicago, but I like WCPE and I listen everyday online. What’s neat is that no matter where I go I can listen to the station as long as I have Internet access.
I’m also a huge fan of Old Time Radio (go figure) not a huge market for radio shows produced 50+ years ago. I’ve got 3 stations bookmarked in ITunes. Who knows how many people will tune to old shows in their car when wireless Internet becomes available? “The Shadow Knows.”