Is Over-the-Air Radio Dying?
A. Michael Noll
November 2, 2015
© 2015 AMN
Does the Internet and streaming mean that broadcast over-the-air radio is dying? History tells us that a new medium does not mean the death of old media. There usually is room for all, although some evolutionary morphing usually does occur. The challenge is understanding and predicting that change – and benefitting from it.
What is radio? Is it the radio waves and modulation technique of amplitude modulation AM) or frequency modulation (FM)? Does it mean the content that is packaged and transmitted to a broad audience? Does it mean the ability to listen almost anywhere at any time?
Today downloading and streaming over the Internet offer individualized content for each listener. But content that is shared and heard by many creates a collective experience.
There are about half-a-billion radio receivers in the United States. During times of emergencies, they are frequently the only way to receive news and know what is happening.
Late at night, unable to sleep, I would listen to my radio. But I now listen over the Internet on my iPod or iPad over Wi-Fi in the house. The FM radio signal became too weak to receive for the classical station I usually listened to. But there was ease to the radio that is not there using the Internet. And the Internet allows me to have access to stations all over the US — and the world.
So how will over-the-air evolve? How will it synergize with the Internet? Clearly there is a market for listening to what someone else prepares and decides to broadcast. The broadcast model offers great economies of scale, yet some individuals seem willing to pay for individualized content. But business models might need to be adjusted for fewer more focused audiences and advertisers, and different delivery mechanisms.