Jim Cramer, the renegade stock picker from CNBC and TheStreet.com, features a video on his site that totally trashes broadcast radio, and its industry leaders. It's a tough video to sit through, but important to realize that his well-respected opinion (in some circles) is now "out there." Clearly, the Wall Street "futures" on radio are weakening, and commentaries like this one will only reinforce the negativity. But when you watch it, notice that Cramer talks about the end of radio as we know it. Mark Ramsey picked up on this in his blog over the weekend, and it caught my attention, too.
If you go back 18 months to Summit 12 in Dallas, Jason Calacanis essentially said the same thing (in a nicer way) when he suggested that "radio surrender." After the room stopped gasping, Calacanis went on to paint a creative picture about how radio could reinvent itself. One of his premises was that radio stations have core competencies that could be retrofitted for the digital age. He talked about creating podcasts, noting that radio has the cume, the production skills, and the sales arms that could make this a great business model. In many ways, NPR is proving that with its podcast successes.
If you haven't seen Calacanis’ video, I suggest you watch it, because it both scares and inspires. Even if you were in the audience that day or you've already seen it on our site, take the 40 minutes and watch it again. >>CLICK HERE TO WATCH<<
This is just one idea about how radio can creatively problem solve, but we will need to go much farther if we're going to get out of this soup. It's not just about creating the next Jack, programming to PPM, or changing formats. That's just "shuffling the deck chairs" on a ship that is increasingly finding itself in very rough waters. Notably, Cramer didn't mention HD Radio. Yet, there are possibilities with that technology that remain untapped because radio has not addressed its potential with an ounce of creativity or enthusiasm. Slashing expenses and laying off hunks of the workforce may mollify Wall Street for a few days or even a quarter or two, but it won't solve the greater problems that face the business. Not the least of which is the perception that the business "as we know it" is in trouble.