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Royle’s Commentary on Radio from 2009 Still Rings True

In 2009 The Oregonian ran a feature story about Larry Wilson buying radio stations in Portland, OR and starting Alpha Broadcasting. I reposted the article on LinkedIn and Facebook with commentary second-guessing Wilson for not mentioning digital once in the entire article.

Bill Ashenden, then general sales manager at Rose City Radio responded, defending his new employer. Our exchange from 2009 is posted below. Ashenden is now the market manager at Bicostal Media in Medford, OR. We have become friends, all from this LinkedIn post.

Looking back at my commentary, I still back it up six years later. Furthermore, terrestrial radio broadcaster’s biggest mistake continues to be with their streaming stations. Pandora and Spotify do play audio commercials, but with much less advertising per hour. Would you rather listen to two minutes of ads per hour or ten minutes of commercials? Radio leadership failed the industry on the stream by not matching Pandora’s spot load, driving many listeners away from their brands.

In Portland, similar to markets across the country, radio groups have abandoned active rock programming. Men 18-34 are not as profitable as other demographics. This short-term thinking, driven by Wall Street and investors looking for immediate returns, have driven young male listeners online, away from terrestrial radio. I seriously doubt they will ever return to terrestrial radio once they’ve gone online.

Hi Bill,

 I appreciate your response. I’m a radio fan and know Citadel well. I am sure Larry Wilson is a great businessman and radio operator. I wasn’t commenting about him personally, but rather the changing business model. Traditional media needs to be talking digital continually, that’s undeniably where the money is shifting to. And the Oregonian story didn’t mention digital radio once. That was disappointing.

The technology is available to track and quantify visitors from streaming radio spots. That allows radio to compete with Google search on a cost per visitor metric. Streaming spots are cheap and search has become expensive.

Radio has wonderful email lists, but uses them wrong. Display advertising in targeted station email is a gold mine that hasn’t been opened.

Lastly radio doesn’t use social media or search marketing properly. These elements should be integrated into every campaign, and not be added value. Instead radio tries to sell 120k in terrestrial spots with minor lip service to the digital pieces. And your client is really interested in the digital piece more than the terrestrial spots.

Advertisers truly want integrated campaigns, where traditional media and internet marketing work together. That’s not happening. I hope you radio group busts out of the aged model. Opportunity is unlimited for the station that does this right.

Cheers and maybe we’ll bump into each other sometime.

Royle Johnson

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