LMiV - October, 1999
"The one thing radio has not learned is how to use the Internet to its advantage."
Note: This was originally published in October, 1999
If the news I'm reading is true, Citadel, Bonneville, Jefferson Pilot and Entercom have joined forces with Emmis Communications to enter the Internet.
First question: Who gets to play John Wayne?
"Reports have as many as ten groups ready to sign on with Emmis and this shared web portal concept. From more than one angle, this is as shaky as Jell-O."
For participants in the 1849 Gold Rush there were three defining moments.
1 ...when interest started growing back East, and folks decided they needed to make the journey West.
2 ...when the wagon trains heading West saw the enemy (the Indians) on the hilltop.
3 ...when many folks found out they weren't going to get rich.
Our Gold Rush's first defining moment saw stations put up failing web sites. Now we've just entered the second moment, where the enemy (Internet companies) has been spotted on the hilltop. Which is why it's suddenly one for all and all for one. (Can you remember this happening before?)
Pull those wagons in a circle. Everything is going to be O.K.
Our third 'defining moment' is right around the corner.
While we wait, please consider this:
Radio still doesn't know how to build interesting web sites. We, as an industry, wonder if users will come back a second, third and fourth time to our sites.
Reports have as many as ten groups ready to sign on with Emmis and this shared web portal concept. From more than one angle, this is as shaky as Jell-O.
Though I'm certain there are many talented individuals behind this latest embrace of the Internet by radio, there are still two troubling points:
1) The strategy is to try and beat the Internet companies at their own game - with their rules.
It appears radio will try and imitate the folks who copied radio on the Internet, Yahoo, LookSmart, Lycos.. etc.
Emmis President Dole Rose is quoted as saying "With these companies' combined audience of 100 million listeners and links to their local stations sites, the portal will be a formidable competitor to the likes of Yahoo! and Amazon.com."
With respect due a person of Mr. Rose's stature, I've been to the Emmis.com web site and a number of your radio station web sites;
If the design and download times necessary to navigate these sites are any indication of your approach to this new ‘portal' web site concept, you need to think about this - Wagons are made of wood, and this time the enemy has arrows of fire. You are about to get burned.
The one thing radio has not learned is how to use
the Internet to its advantage. [I contend that this holds true in 2012
.] Radio station web sites still lack the power to bring users back, and they will continue like this until enough money and manpower are put forth.
According to Forrester Research an interactive
web site now costs, on average, $250,000. [Note: This article was written in October, 1999. Today, I'd place that figure closer to $1 million.]
From radio's track record on spending money - especially in the mid to small markets - it doesn't look too promising.
The other point that bothers me greatly is the chance a collection of radio groups can work together harmoniously.
How long will it be before someone thinks they are not getting a fair cut of the credit? At what point will someone yell foul, then scramble to assemble their own web 'portal' from the same outdated design.
There is an article you need to read at the Editor's & Publisher web site, by Steve Outing. "Old-Media Companies Need to Stop Just Following." [Unfortunatley, this article is no longer available.]
It only gives a brief mention of radio, but the concept behind the article is 100% media. Old media is too caught up in fads to see the real future.
The sudden cooperation behind these radio companies attempting to outsmart the new enemy is based upon this.
In the words of Mr. Outing:
"Instead of following the trends, create a new online application that others will want to copy from you."
Although the act of camaraderie is commendable, the art of coordinating all the elements required to get this multiple group portal site rolling will
be the thing that's formidable. Not the resulting web site.
Getting the industry to attack the problem together is an ideal thing to do. It's just that when the wagons are in a circle nobody is leading them in the right direction. They're standing still... looking at each other's back end.
And John Wayne is dead.
Today's indie artist introduction to internet radio is...
Give Lisa Mowry "Some Things Are True"
Add it to your station playlist, free!
Such is the new world of music distribution.