NAB2018: Radio. Always on. Always in Range. | TALKERS magazine : TALKERS magazine – “The bible of talk media.”

NAB2018: Radio. Always on. Always in Range.

| April 9, 2018

By Holland Cooke
Media Consultant


LAS VEGAS — Among pep-talk signage here: “Radio has historically defined the in-car experience.  Now, radio can define any experience on the go, regardless of location.”

Nowhere did that ring truer than in the Digital Futures session on Sunday morning…packed, even after Saturday night in Vegas…

Newspapers are playing radio.

“Newspapers are struggling” isn’t news, but Mike Barthel from Pew Research told us just how badly.  USA newspaper ad revenue was near $50 billion in 2000, now it’s fallen to $18 billion and change.  Of all interloper media, newspapers make a greater percentage of their haul from digital, 29%; compared to local TV, which realizes 4-5% of its ad revenue from digital.

Peter Newton from Gatehouse Media (the largest daily newspaper publisher in the USA) told us how aggressively his company is investing in podcasts, “building mini-studios in all of our 50 markets” by year-end.  And he shared that a web page gets three times more engagement when audio is embedded.

See an opportunity there?  Since the 1990s, when Consolidation triggered mass radio firings – and has especially clobbered local radio news – I’ve been urging displaced talent to take their skills to the local newspaper.

TV is tops, radio is steady.

Make no mistake: Digital is grabbing share from all other media; and Mike Barthel from Pew Research demonstrated that “the decline is sharpest for local TV news.”

Comparing 2016 to 2017, the percentage of USA adults who “often get news on each platform:”

  • Television: 57% fell to 50%
  • Online: 38% grew to 43%
  • Radio held steady: 25% to 25%.
  • Print newspaper erosion continued: 20% to 18%

And the decline for local TV was the sharpest, with percentage of USA adults who “often get news on each TV sector:”

  • Local TV: 46% to 37%
  • Network TV: 30% to 25%
  • Cable TV: 31% to 28%

“This shift is driven by older Americans.”  TV’s demographic base is 65+.  Young people already have a digital habit, and older people are following.

Real News About Fake News

Also from Pew: 2/3 of USA adults (67%, up from 62% a year earlier) get news from Social Media, including:

  • 45% Facebook
  • 18% YouTube
  • 11% Twitter

Yet few trust information from Social Media.  In this order, our info-cred’ hierarchy is:

  1. Local news organizations
  2. National news organizations
  3. Friends and family
  4. Social Media

No wonder!  14% surveyed admitted to sharing “a political news story online they knew at the time was made up!”

Also instructive to our purposes:

  • News organizations are widely linked-to on Social Media: 42% of the 1030 most-linked-to sites are news organizations.
  • Tip: Search terms point to news stories the media isn’t onto yet.

Alexa = weather.

After millions and millions of smart speakers ended-up under the Christmas tree recently, Cox Media Group executive director of Digital Audience & Product Ian Stinson told us nearly 20% of all USA adults (47 million) now own at least one.  Market share:

  • Amazon 71.9%
  • Google 18.4
  • Other brands 9.7%

Using them for what?  Consistent with data I’ve reported here previously, this, from comScore:

  • 81% Checking weather
  • 77% Asking general questions
  • 74% Streaming music
  • 60% Timers/alarms
  • 48% News/sports updates
  • 44% Reminders/to-do lists
  • 37% Personal calendars
  • 37% Playing games/finding jokes/entertaining
  • 33% Streaming news broadcasts or news updates
  • 30% Bluetooth audio from another device
  • 30% Home automation
  • 30% Ordering an item online
  • 27% Traffic updates
  • 23% Making phone calls
  • 19% Streaming podcasts
  • 18% Finding local businesses/making reservations
  • 17% Streaming audiobooks
  • 15% Sending/receiving text messages/Emails
  • 13% Ordering food/services
  • 13% Getting stock prices/information
  • 9% Translating languages
  • 8% Financial services not related to the stock market.

Not all of these smart speaker applications intersect with radio’s capabilities, but some – such as weather, a traditional radio staple – threaten to sideline broadcasters.  And all of what I’m reporting here points to obvious threats and opportunities.

KSNV-TV, Las Vegas news director Mark Neerman said something we-in-radio can relate to: “There are two groups of people in our industry today: people who fear change, and people who are excited about change.”


Holland Cooke ( is a media consultant working at the intersection of Talk Radio and the Internet; and he hosts “The Big Picture” TV show on RT America. Follow him on Twitter @HollandCooke

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Category: Analysis