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Video Did Not Kill the Radio and Neither Will the Internet

August 22, 2013

MTVOn August 1, 1981, MTV debuted with the The Buggles’ song, “Video Killed the Radio Star.” Thirty-two years later MTV has evolved and is no longer playing music videos. As far as radio; most stations are still pumping out the music and the hits.

So now we hear that the internet is the next piece of technology that is going to kill the radio. If you believe the digital audio services claims, this has already happened. The trouble is there are no facts to back up these self-promoting statements. In every market we examined, radio has a ninety-plus percent reach. That means that just about everyone tunes to the radio in an average week. There goes the belief that radio is a dying medium.

Some diminish cume as not a true reflection of what is going on. We at Research Director, Inc. have looked at five-plus years of listening in a few random markets. We do not see the massive audience erosion that our competitors claim. In these markets listening is either flat, or in some cases up.

With all of the various options out there, how do you explain it?


What a music station does between the songs is equally important as the music it plays. Yes, the music is a major element of many radio stations, but it is not the only element. Successful radio stations (in both ratings and revenue) offer the listeners more.

  • They offer a local voice speaking up for the community.
  • They offer companionship that people are always seeking.
  • They offer information when there is a need to know.

Focusing on just the music is like a football team focusing on just the quarterback. While he may get all of the headlines, you can’t win without the other members of the team. Great radio stations succeed on teamwork.

Most importantly, we as an industry must stand up and let advertisers know our strengths. We need to address the perception that “nobody listens to the radio anymore” and prove them wrong with the facts. There are still many great radio stations in America, serving, informing and entertaining their community. What we play between the songs, including the advertiser’s message, is as important as the music.

Anyone who believes differently is ill informed.

-Charlie Sislen, Partner