Radio's Better PR Starts Here

Last weekend, I once again enjoyed the privilege of attending the annual “Birthday Banquet” gathering of communications professionals from across the country – all members of the WJPZ Alumni Association. WJPZ is the student-operated radio station on the campus of Syracuse University that we alumni believe is the #1 media classroom in the nation.

Our keynote speaker was not an alum of Syracuse or WJPZ but is someone who is on the front lines of today’s emerging broadcasting landscape – Wayne Cabot, the afternoon drive anchor at the top news radio station in the nation’s #1 market – WCBS-AM in New York.

Cabot spoke about the state of radio and its current challenges. He mentioned one that ironically, even “radio guys” like Don and I have missed. Cabot said “radio needs better PR,” that the story of the medium’s relevance in American lives is often misunderstood.

He shared the statistic that 95 percent of Americans still listen to radio at least once per week. That’s a far cry from the “radio is dead” claims you often here (really, just like all of the other “… is dead claims” as we have written before.

While there is plenty not to like about the current state of radio (namely, how too much of it is automated and/or “cookie cutter” and/or boring), I’ll take Cabot’s challenge and tell a few good stories about radio today:

-Radio owns the car. It is the safest, best way to be informed and entertained while driving

-Radio can still own “now.” While Twitter is immediate, there’s still nothing like a radio journalist on a scene or just “on” a story to convey information, emotion and facts to truly understand something happening in real time

-Radio still largely sets the popular music agenda. Just ask my kids. They hear a song they like first on the radio before downloading it or looking for the video on YouTube

-Radio does digital better than TV. You can listen to radio stations on your smartphone or computer, for free. Most TV products still can’t do that.

Anything else worth touting about radio in 2012? We’re happy to share more.