Panelists: Chairman, President and CEO of Audacy, David Field and co-founder, Chairman and CEO of iHeartMedia, Bob Pittman.
Reflecting on the effect the pandemic had on radio, and ever confident and upbeat on the industry, Pittman says, “I get the feeling that we are just getting started, that we have tremendous opportunities, that from the listeners side, you’re picking up people who the year before valued peace and quiet, and now that they’ve got peace and quiet they want something on, and (the audio industry) is the beneficiary of that.”
He says that now consumers have replaced the clock radio with Alexa “…in the same sort of rooms the radio was in and getting the same sort of usage, number 1 is AM,FM radio, number 2 is weather, number 3 is music” radios biggest problem is “not thinking big enough. No one dreamed the cable networks would be that big, no one dreamed the internet would be that big”
Field agrees saying that “we are on the cusp of the best era for radio…the extraordinary explosion of content and experiences that we are now offering listeners through technology, we are on the cusp of radio and audio surging forward and delivering great results.
On the lessons learnt of the last two years, Pittman says, “…we saw in the early days of the pandemic this incredible increase in use of digital devices in the home for radio stations. And they discovered us in some places, I think they would have never discovered something… on smart TVs, Roku and on and on, video game consoles, etc.
“And I think and now that, of course, as people return to normal habits, that usage in the home of those devices is still there. So I think from a device standpoint, very important. I think from a bonding with audience standpoint, the number one place people got their news about COVID is radio.
“Radio is the most trusted medium for being multiple greater than social. And I think living through that experience and keeping people company, in some cases keeping them sane, I think there’s is a relationship that will be a forever relationship, whatever that bond was, stays.”
Pittman says that now the challenge for radio is to take advantage of this change in listening habits, to continue to engage the audience, and to remember what it is like to be the person sitting next to the driver in the car.
Radio stations have achieved an elevated role as local broadcasters with trusted news and information, as well as being accountable for the massive amounts of misinformation their audiences are getting on social media.