Most everyone on the air in radio grew up with the axiom that "you paint pictures with your words." Many remember the old Stan Freberg bits where he cleverly used sound effects to create amazing "scenes" that were enhanced by your imagination.
For radio in 2007, however, those days are over. Morning shows, daypart jocks, and programmers who aren't thinking in terms of visuals are missing out on entertainment value. And sales departments are losing opportunities to monetize web-based content that would enhance the overall consumer experience.
And this just in: comScore reports that in May of this year, three-fourths of Internet users watched an average of nearly three hours of online video that month. This translates to 132 million Americans watching streaming video, with YouTube leading the way. And of those consumers, they average two videos a day.
So what does this tell us about our content and our business? Video needs to be a component of everything we do. It needs to be integrated into our personality shows, whether it's via webcams or listener-submitted videos. Events need to be covered with video to capture the excitement of station events, contests, interviews, etc. The video age online has signaled increased interest in going behind the scenes to see what happens at stations. It involves the listener in the process, and provides her with a unique/on-demand perspective.
The online video revolution also should signal the need to acquire employees (jocks, promotion people, etc.) who have basic video editing skills. We need to be thinking video in our hires, and making sure that our stations are staffed with employees who "get" the visual side of what we do. Every time I visit a web site that uses "photo galleries" to cover an event (often too many pictures posted that are not edited and poorly/not labeled), it screams how out-of-date stations often end up looking to listeners.
In the same way that walking into a home that last had interior decoration done in the '80s simply looks tired and dated, radio needs to critically assess its websites and total approach to how it presents entertainment. Consumers are moving at a rapid rate as the comScore data illustrates. TV and newspapers have hopped on the video bus and are doing their best to move forward. Radio needs to get moving, too.