Monday Memo: Happy Birthday, Walkman | TALKERS magazine - talk media trade : TALKERS magazine – “The bible of talk media.”

Monday Memo: Happy Birthday, Walkman

| September 9, 2019

By Holland Cooke


BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Born in 1979, the little tape deck hits The Big Four-Oh.  Walkman was still going strong in 1990, when Julia Roberts sang-along to Prince in that bubble bath scene in “Pretty Woman.”

  • Sony sold 400 million of ‘em, including the ill-fated Discman CD player (skipped too much when jogging) and Mini-Disk Walkman (more-customizable than CDs, but too complicated). Cassettes seem ancient now, but Walkman was father to iPod and grandfather to smartphones, today’s personal portable music player.
  • The opposite of Boom Box — whose users seemed to want to broadcast their music – Walkman was a privacy appliance, enabling us to tune-out our surroundings. Back to the future: Everywhere we go today, we see people wearing Beats headphones and Apple earbuds.  They’re now so common that, as I write this, I note that MS Word doesn’t flag “earbuds” as a misspelling.

Walkman and its descendants enabled users to take control of their audio…all kinds. 

Though the manufacturer offered iPod as a music player, it was the consumer who figured audio-is-audio, and created spoken-word programming.  So when you hear the term “podcasting” – originally a nod to iPod – think “Programming On-Demand.”  Said another way: talk radio without transmitters.

Got a transmitter?

  • Use it to tell your cume that you’re not just real-time on-air. Netflix being the world’s biggest TV network is Clue Number One that offering on-demand content is imperative.
  • And don’t just tell ‘em, SELL ‘em. On-air spots-disguised-as shortform audio vignettes invite on-demand consumption of super-sales-friendly topics too narrow for on-air longform.  And to local retailers, your station can be the Hollywood of podcasting.  This is a focus area in my work with client stations, and is worth a sales meeting at yours.

Holland Cooke ( is a media consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet.  He is the author of “Holland Cooke: Greatest Hits” an instant download available exclusively from Talkers Books.  Click the ad banner on this page.  And he hosts “The Big Picture” TV show on RT America.  Read HC’s Monday Memo each week at, and follow him on Twitter @HollandCooke

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Category: Advice