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Fred Jacobs is President of Jacobs Media, a media research and consulting firm. Jacobs Media clients have included CBS Radio, Premiere Radio Networks, Citadel, Greater Media, MTV Networks, Playboy, Amazon, Electronic Arts, NPR, Sylvan Learning Centers, and Taubman Malls. Learn more about the company here.


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August 2011

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Don Beno

The Ipod is pop culture. While giving away an Ipod may actually be encouraging people to listen to other media than our radio stations, one doesn't have to look too far back to see similarities in the 70's & 80's. Radio used to give away LP's, cassettes and CD's. There were AM stations giving away AM/FM/8-Track Hi-Fi systems for both the home and car.

And while there were some stations that had a no cassette or CD giveaway policy....some even had a "no MTV talk" policy... radio continued to move forward.

Now one can say the Ipod is a more convenient and immediate competitor than the Sony DiscMan or MTV ever were, and they would get little arguement. However, it's time for broadcasters to step back a bit...and look at the "whole picture".....

If our radio stations are simply jukeboxes...or Ipods that play commercials in between musical selections, than yes....the Ipod is a deadly threat, because that little audio device, the Ipod not only plays NO COMMERCIALS, it has the very best research available... The listener who gathers and programs those tunes into the Ipod.

As radio broadcasters, we have to deliver an audio product that goes beyond the perfect playlist. We have to become what we always should have been. A total entertainment package...a friend...an information source. This goes beyond the usual basic elements like sports scores...time checks and weather reports. These basics are already available...immediately on your listener's cellphone.

Entertainment goes beyond the latest music news (instantly available on the internet). We have to expound the the element of personality. Put it this way....Howard Stern...Rush Limbaugh and Delilah will not be replaced by Ipods. They won't be replaced by a web service or pager unless their performance becomes uninteresting, dull or unattractive.

Radio needs to think in terms of personality. And step back when you think "personality". It doesn't have to be a jock who does lesbian dial-a-date, or a talk show host who bashes Democrats or even a talent who plays sappy love song requests. Personality could be the station itself. "Stationality" was the term that was coined a few years ago. It could be a screamin deejay that injects new life into an oldie that has been heard by the audience 1000 times before. It could be shocking or irreverant image sweepers, innovative contests, poetry readers, rappers or countless things that have yet to be invented and put on the radio.

Radio will definitely have to reinvent itself it it wants to survive. And that reinvention extends well beyond the music.

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