Just What is Radio? | TALKERS magazine - talk media trade : TALKERS magazine – “The bible of talk media.”

Just What is Radio?

| October 1, 2021

By Jon Quick


CARMEL, Ind. — Go into your local Best Buy store and ask that millennial in the blue shirt on the sales floor: “I want to buy a radio.”   He’ll probably take you over to the SiriusXM display.

That means radio is alive and well.

Radio has been doomed for over 70 years, ever since the emergence of television.  In fact, it was falsely documented in this 1949 issue of Look magazine.

I was raised in the Lutheran Church.  I remember in Sunday school the minister asked us: “What is a church?”   All of us agreed that a church is a building with a bell and a steeple.  Pastor Thorson said, “No, that is just a shell.  A church is really a congregation of people, the spirit and all of the goodness we are taught to believe in.”  I find this analogous to radio.

Radio is not a box.

Radio is audio content that entertains and informs in a multitude of ways. It is actually bigger, more ubiquitous than ever before.

Radio is alive and well and today comes in different package shapes and styles to match your lifestyle and flavor preference.  It’s not unlike Coca-Cola.

There are statistics that say radio is heard by over 92% of the populace, listening over the airwaves alone. No other medium can claim that.

But then there is this:

Radio is my Alexa

Radio is my smartphone.

Radio is a headset or wireless buds in my ears.

Radio fills my car with news and music.

Radio is streaming on my computer.

Radio is SiriusXM

Radio is archived on my favorite station website to listen on demand.

Radio is podcasts from my favorite radio personalities.

It’s all radio.

You can just as easily listen to WCBS Newsradio 88 as you can WDAY in Fargo, North Dakota. It is amazing.

If anything does kill radio, it will be the programmers and managers who have forgotten how to create great radio content. Further, it is their lack of ability to coach talent, teach the importance of great story telling, being truly funny and innovative, how to inform in creative ways, and that it’s OK to take some risks and be unpredictable.

These are the same people who de-emphasize the value of the multitude of newer ways listeners can use it. But please do it right. Or don’t do it at all. Putting a cheap TV camera in a studio that is littered with coffee cups and jocks in t-shirts ain’t gonna do it.   Don’t try to be TV without first doing radio right.

I keep hearing this legendary Heller jingle in my head. It was created back in the 1970s for then-AC KVIL and was originally designed to be a dig at then-Dallas market leader KLIF.

“It’s a Shame What Happened to Radio but they can’t afford to do it anymore.”


Too many managers are guilty of producing unexciting programming that is rubber stamped in market after market.

Jon Quick has worked with many great radio brands in his career, including WCCO, WIBC, KFGO, KTAR, KLBJ, KFTK, and Corus Entertainment, Canada.  Today he specializes in consulting and talent coaching for brands nationwide.  He can be reached at 317-432-0309, or Jon@QPRmarketing.com.

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Category: Opinions