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Seen and Heard at the Radio Show

| September 25, 2019

By Jeff McKay
Special Features Correspondent


DALLAS — While the setup day for the NAB Radio Show in Dallas Wednesday is when the show gets going with info sessions, exhibit floors opening, and those who didn’t arrive on Tuesday afternoon filing in early Wednesday, it’s the day the meetings begin, people gather for the luncheon featuring Cumulus CEO Mary Berner, Entercom CEO David Field, and iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman, and networking is in full effect.

Sales as usual is always a big part of the event, however podcasting is a big theme of the 2019 Radio Show.  In fact, podcasting here at the Radio Show is being talked about more than ever before.  Several meeting sessions were solely about podcasting, but it seems as many of the sessions will also include podcasting as an element.

An eye-opening statement was made in one session today regarding music and programming.

Chris Patyk, head of rock and alternative programming at TuneIn, spoke at the session, “The Radio and Music Relationship of Tomorrow,” and brought up an interesting point to TALKERS when he said regarding music, “Music on the radio isn’t about listening, it’s about being marketed.

“There are a lot of skeptical people coming up in the next generation and most of them look at music as something that is being marketed and not necessarily as the art form that it is,” says Patyk.  “Some in the industry don’t want to have skip rates and getting songs down to two minutes so it will work on certain platforms.  It comes across to some that music is being made to be marketed and not the art it is.”

When you walk the main hall at the NAB it’s clear how dominating podcasting has become and exhibitors here are also catering to the podcast industry.  Dennis Wharton, the EVP of communications for the NAB tells TALKERS the reason the NAB is all-in for podcasting this year is clearly the tremendous growth in the industry.

“We have a lot of sessions on podcasting this year.  People see the growth of listenership and the monetization of podcasting is now taking root.  The reason the NAB is doing so much this year here is it gives people more ways to learn, network ideas, create potential business relationships.  It’s clearly something that’s on everybody’s mind in the industry right now.”

Wharton also echoes what many so far have told me here at the Radio Show, that in terms of talk radio, podcasting is the “next generation of talk.”

“It’s a growth area for sure, and a pipeline for talent as well, and Ben Shapiro is just one example.  The exciting thing is a lot of young people are getting involved and have been able to create new products for radio.  Partnerships are developing between these podcasters and broadcasting companies.  It’s a great way to rejuvenate the radio industry with new ideas and it’s fast becoming a part of the radio landscape.”

Walking through the exhibit floor of the NAB Radio Show you always bump into many interesting people, including the famous Shotgun Tom Kelly.  The longtime oldies DJ found himself in extremely unfamiliar territory when his heritage KRTH-FM, Los Angeles “K-Earth” was sold and the format changed.  Kelly has advice for anyone who, like him, found themselves in a place where they never wanted or expected to be – losing their job, and his advice is you can’t be one-dimensional in your career.

“You always have to be thinking about what’s next.  Years ago I got involved in voiceover work, and I started at the bottom by going to a class.  From there I learned and networked and built a second career, and now it’s a big part of what I do.  Podcasting is an extremely valuable way to re-imagine your career.  A lot of people in radio don’t realize that radio is one thing, voice-over and podcasting are another.  That sideline can open up doors, especially when you my need them the most, as I’ve learned from many others who have been the victims of losing their jobs.”

Tomorrow at the NAB, we’ll be talking to more people about the immediate future of radio, finding out what is working and not working in podcasting, and what else is being seen and heard at the NAB 2019.

Jeff McKay can be emailed at

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Category: Analysis