One faction fancies themselves enlightened Doomsayers, people who confidently predict a dark foreboding future for radio.
People in this camp think radio is populated by greedy aging luddites who don’t realize that radio is hurdling towards disaster driven by ignorance and an unwillingness to face the inevitability of radio’s irrelevance if it continues on its current path.
The Doomsayers take every opportunity to accuse radio of ignorance, over-confidence, greed, and just plain stupidity.
They seem to delight in pointing out radio’s foibles and missteps. Their “contribution” to the discussion is to engage in continuous radio bashing. They delight in creating radio straw-men who they can debate and verbally crush.
Take the recent Pandora is/isn’t radio debate.
A casual comment by Bob Pittman to a reporter dismissing Pandora as “not radio” turned into fodder for the Doomsayers.
Radio critics pounced, seeing it as another opportunity to blast radio’s ignorance, one writing:
I see an almost delicious zeal in diminishing these new definitions of radio by damning Pandora....Any broadcaster who defines "radio" according to century-old rules in a digital age is a fool.
The only fool here is the one that fails to understand why Pittman said what he did. Pittman was doing what any good salesman does regarding the competition.
Clear Channel along with CBS and other groups are developing products to compete against Pandora.
It doesn’t matter what radio is, or isn’t. It matters that Clear Channel and others take Pandora seriously enough to create competitive products.
Calling broadcasters fools serves no useful purpose other than to elevate the accuser’s self-importance.
Streaming is another area where the Doomsayers virtually froth at the actions and inactions of broadcasters.
The high cost of royalties, much lower spot rates, AFTRA contracts, and the fact that Arbitron doesn’t measure streams all conspire to raise costs and lower revenue.
Doomsayers dismiss all these problems declaring:
The inability of today's leaders to see tomorrow squarely is as old as industry leadership....The vast majority of broadcasters have never even explored a sensible business model around streaming.
The Doomsayers can’t argue the economics of streaming, so they attack the vision and business acuity of those with whom they disagree. It’s an old trick: If you can’t win on the facts, attack the ones with the facts.
The latest silliness is challenging the notion that radio invented social networking.
In 2009 Radio Insights declared that We (radio) were creating social networks long before there was a fancy name for it.
Since that post a number of writers have made similar comments.
So what? So what if radio claims that its social networks pre-date the Internet?
The doomsayers see an ominous corrosive impact:
What bugs me about it isn't just that it's wrong, but that the implication behind its use is so destructive. The over-use of this unfortunate cliché will serve only to console us into acquiescence.
Once again doomsayers portray radio as naive, complacent, and ignorant of the true facts.
Contrast the dismissive downbeat Doomsayers with the other faction, the Pathfinders. Pathfinders also see a challenging future for radio, but they see digital as a great opportunity.
They understand that browbeating radio, calling broadcasters senseless fools, is not leadership, and it isn’t productive.
Radio Pathfinders look for solutions that balance the need to prepare for the future with business realities.
They understand broadcast’s strengths, and its demonstrated ability to adapt to new challenges.
Radio’s Pathfinders understand that digital is still new, a first-mover advantage for the pure-plays is non-existent, and there is plenty of time to develop responses to digital threats.
Whether it is music discovery, personalized streams, or crowd sourcing, the successes of Internet pure-plays can be matched and improved upon by broadcast radio.
Doomsayers focus on silly peripheral issues to portray radio as hopelessly ill-prepared for the future.
Pathfinders see a challenging yet bright future for radio. They focus on the critical issues, confident that broadcast will prevail.
Which are you?