On the other and, if you don’t have a very good case, then use intimidation to win. Argue methodology, competency, intelligence, or terminology. Anything but the facts.
These basic tenets of debate were on display in a challenge to a recent Inside Radio story.
Inside Radio took note of the fact that according to research, more people use AM/FM streams than use Internet-only services. In other words, listeners are using the Internet as just another way to listen to local radio.
We believe the story was a sincere effort to add balance to the debate over the future of radio.
However, to a pundit who preaches the inevitable demise of local terrestrial radio, this is sacrilege. New-media advocates are convinced that local radio is walking dead. The future belongs to visionary internet music services that will profoundly change radio as we know it.
That Internet listeners might prefer local radio over national Internet services could not go unchallenged.
The attack began by dismissing the results because they were contrary to Ando Media statistics:
Those data (Ando Media) routinely show that the usage of Pandora outstrips usage of terrestrial radio streams, even when you aggregate some of the top radio groups together.
True, but beside the point.
Ando Media does not release unique visitor data. If it did, we would see how anemic Internet listening really is. Instead it publishes numbers on sessions, a useless metric for this discussion.
Even with Pandora’s apparent lead in the Ando Media ranker, it is quite possible (we believe likely) that even Ando Media statistics would show that more people listen to local stations online than listen to national services like Pandora.
The criticism then takes an odd turn, making an argument that inadvertently adds further credence to the Inside Radio conclusion. Ignoring the very Ando Media statistics he cited earlier that show tremendous usage of local radio streams, he writes:
The fact is the majority of terrestrial radio streams are redundant to what’s already over the air....So I should go to your stream....why, exactly?
Perhaps because people like what they hear on their local radio stations, but find it more convenient to listen to the streams. The very fact that people spend hours listening to redundant local streams supports the research.
According to Ando Media, listeners spend nearly ten hours listening to the streams of just the top five broadcast groups. That compares to less than an hour for Pandora.
The critic then moves to the defense of Pandora comparing it to local radio streams:
Pandora, on the other hand, is redundant to nothing and complimentary to everything. No wonder it is “better” than the local radio station. If you could tailor a station to your own personal music tastes, isn’t it likely to be “better?”
Actually no. Pandora is a spectacularly successful PR effort, but a terribly flawed product. How can a service specifically tailored to one’s own personal music tastes have the lowest time spent listening of any Internet service? Doesn’t that raise questions?
How can something be “better” when no one spends any time listening to it?
Pandora is tracing out a well traveled arc of novelty. It has reached the apogee of its popularity for reasons we’ll explain in a future post.
The critic concludes by trivializing the whole discussion as pointless:
Our job is not to compare what we bench press with Pandora’s Tim Westegren. Let’s get over it, and get on with business.
So derisively dismiss the Inside Radio observations using irrelevant data and unsupported personal beliefs, and then urge everyone to move on. A predictable response.
Westegren has declared war on radio. He has created a massive public relations effort to discredit local radio and to distort the strength of Pandora. And he has enlisted new-media pundits to do exactly what was done in this case, attack local radio and promote Pandora as local radio’s successor.
Radio owes a thanks to Inside Radio for setting the record straight.