There's a cyclical and cynical nature to pop culture. All things thought trendy and fashionable reach a point where they become passe'. Black gives way to pastels, Xbox gives way to Wii, and facebook gives way to myspace. And after a time, things once thought passe' become hip again.
Take satellite radio. At one time it was the killer app. It was going to destroy terrestrial radio. You don't hear much about that anymore. The debate today is whether satellite can survive. Even the merger of XM and Sirius hasn't seemed to help. The combined company still doesn't make any money and the company's stock is down to 17 cents, even lower than terrestrial radio stocks.
A few years ago new media pundits said that Millenials had abandoned radio and would never come back. Just to reinforce the point, the NAB treated its members to convention session after session devoted to proving that kids hate radio. (Why is it that the NAB's Radio Show organizers feel that penance and self-flagellation are necessary convention components?)
You can pretty much bet that anything that is declared dead in pop culture is just playing possum. Just as soon as the last laggards jump on the bandwagon, the trendsetters will decide that there's something even more cool, and the cycle will begin again.
In the past few months, Rasmussen, Jupiter, and Pew have all found that radio (of all things!) is the leading influence in helping people discover new music. Neither satellite nor the Internet comes close. New media pundits might be able to dismiss one study, but three separate studies?
Harker Research has been studying the attitudes and tastes of media users for over two decades. We've spoken with tens of thousands of consumers, and over that time we've never seen the popularity of radio wane. Formats come and go, but not interest in radio as a source of information and entertainment.
What we have seen is the perception of radio change. Media critics and pundits bought into the "death of radio" myth, and became convinced that listeners were abandoning radio. Battered by all these gloomy predictions, radio itself bought into it.
But no trend in pop culture can continue for ever. Once everyone believes something, the critics start looking for the opposite, and invariably find it. Take a look at this recent USA Today Snapshot. Do you think they would have run this a few years ago?