It's true. Many radio executives secretly love Satellite Radio. Are you going to deny having an XM or Sirius subscription? Okay, maybe many of you haven't signed up yet. I did say "yet". I'm quite positive many radio executives have a secret love affair with Satellite Radio. You are ashamed to admit that you either have it, or want it. You might even get around the subscription issue by tuning in to XM via AOL. Am I right? [all replies will be held in the strictest of confidence]
But some of you are saying to me right now, "Why would I pay for radio, when I can get it free over the air?" Have you listened to your station(s) lately? I have to wonder just who you are programming to. You have heard radio listenership is declining. Do you not get it? On most of your stations the number of songs you have in rotation is at a bare minimum. I don't know about you, but I get tired of hearing the same song every time I turn the radio on. If I want to hear the same song over and over, I'll buy the cd (or download the mp3). What really irks me is when I hear a song I don't want to hear, so I change the dial, and hear that same song on another station! And consolidation was supposed to encourage more "variety". Well, where's the beef? And in many cases, the "talent" you have in place is not talented (you fired the talented jocks for making too much money). These are reasons why I have a subscription to both XM and Sirius. I am not ashamed to admit my love affair with Satellite Radio. It fulfills a need I have as a man: A need for "variety" in my music.
The NAB and many programmers speak out against the XM and Sirius merger citing that Satellite Radio has a competitive advantage. What is that advantage exactly? All the conglomerates that the NAB panders to is making every terrestrial station in a given format sound the same no matter what market you are in. How does XM or Sirius have the advantage on that? Plus, you have to pay for XM and Sirius. Your terrestrial stations are free (of course, you get what you pay for, right?). What you fail to understand is that every form of entertainment has a competitive advantage over terrestrial radio right now, especially when reaching the younger demos. One thing, as the General Manager of a station, that I would tell many of my potential advertisers is that they have to think outside of the box when thinking about their competition. Take for example a donut shop. Their competition isn't only another donut shop. It's competition is also every other fast food place open for breakfast, it's every other coffee shop (whether or not they sell donuts), it's also the ice cream shop, and it's also the grocery store! Anywhere food is sold, the donut shop has competition.
And so it is with radio. Anywhere people can get entertainment and/or news, there is competition. That includes, TV, the newspaper, the movies, books, the Internet, iPods and other mp3 players, cds, cassettes, concerts, the high school play and even the guy in the subway strumming his guitar singing his version of Stairway to Heaven. As a side note, have you ever noticed that people don't stop and listen when those guys in the subway are singing "the hits", but you'll find a crowd around someone singing original, or less known music. Think about it.
Getting back on topic, competition for the consumer abounds everywhere. We are just lucky, that people have diverse tastes and need to stimulate the various senses. But terrestrial radio is losing out because it's catering to the least common denominator. Satellite Radio is filling a void!
Why are you afraid of something you may have even romanticized about as a kid; remember thinking how cool it would be to hear your favorite station anywhere in the Country or even the world! I used to think that, especially when we were traveling. But back then it wasn't possible (except for DXing, but that's a different issue), and so I did enjoy listening to all the various stations and their unique personalities across the Country. However now, it's not possible to listen to local variety because so many terrestrial stations (owned by just a few groups) are all sounding the same. The problem is, you are programming them so poorly I would prefer to listen to Satellite because there is more variety; more variety of formats, and more variety of songs within the formats. I actually get to listen to my all time favorite station on the Internet, CHOM-FM in Montreal.
Stop fighting the XM and Sirius merger. It will actually be healthy for competition (yes, because it will force you to broaden your playlists) and be better for the consumer too. Focus on your own content to bring listeners back. Stop blaming everything else for your loss of listeners and please stop pandering to the record labels playing what they want you to play, just so they can sell records. Play what your listeners want to hear (hey, there's a concept!). That is what will get more people listening. Radio listenership has declined because radio stopped listening to it's audience. (Like you haven't heard that one before) And I don't think a focus group can be considered "the audience". They are more like rats in a lab experiment that will do or say what they think you want them to so they can get their treats.
But like I said, you get what you pay for, and you didn't pay anything to read what I have to say about it! So, go about your business and keep telling yourself everything is all right in "radioland". I'll still have my Satellite subscriptions and Internet radio getting my need for variety fulfilled.