As we await the big HD Radio announcement on Tuesday, I'm sitting here in suburban Detroit trying to visualize the future of our business. It's been a tough year for radio - not just in revenue, but in the industry's overall PR efforts. We've used this space several times to point out the obvious - if radio hopes to compete with new media, we have to understand their tactics: content development, innovation, priority setting, research and development, and of course, public relations. You could argue that we've been deficient in all these areas.
And yet, thinking about the domestic auto industry, the analogies are clear - and painful. You cannot compete with Japanese car makers until you understand them, learn their systems, and respond accordingly. Yet, here we are, nearing the end of 2005, and Ford and GM - in particular - are struggling mightily.
Perhaps there's some synergy here. Maybe radio's way out of this mess is to help Detroit get out of its morass. While Tuesday's announcement will undoubtedly deal with content, structure, and development, the bottom line to HD Radio's success is going to revolve around hardware access.
We're behind - way behind. And while we can develop the greatest Reggae or comedy channels on earth, if consumers cannot hear them, it just won't matter. That's where the automakers come into play. Why not offer the domestic corporations the best deal possible, promote the hell out of it on our collective air, and work toward selling more HD Radios in American cars and trucks?
Greater Media's Tom Bender has had the right idea from the get-go. Create solid HD channels right here in Motown, and expose the auto execs to what the future could be. Now that there is an industry initiative in the works, shouldn't radio and the domestic auto companies seize the moment, and help each other get back in the game?