I asked some of the best and brightest minds in the business to independently answer five identical questions and make one prediction. They were also prompted to put aside their own interests and respond by thinking about our industry overall. PDs, a SM/GM, consultants and a podcaster. These are their responses, edited only for space.
Measurement issues, formats, women in management, spot loads, digital, mentorship and more, it’s all here. Grab some spiked eggnog and enjoy!
Julie Adam – Senior Vice President Radio – Rogers
I’m most worried about the Canadian industry coming together to ensure that we can successfully migrate our over the air stations (especially the AM band) to digital, as they’ve done in Europe.
What I see changing is better collaboration among companies, 2018 was our best year yet for that.
To stay profitable, I think radio needs to stay focused on the audience and the advertiser and not fear distribution and “digital”. Go out and hire great, unique, diverse talent on-air and off-air and let them swing for the fences. It’s the people that will lead us to growth.
The biggest problem radio faces in 2019 is fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of digital. Fear of our demise. Let’s not be scared. Let’s instead be bold!
The format with the biggest growth next year will be the one with the best people. That’s cheating, I know, but I’m not one for sweeping statements about formats.
I predict that in 2019 I will work my tail off and do whatever I need to do to help our industry stay strong. Not really a prediction, more like a promise.
Christian Hall – National Program Manager Harvard/Program Director X92.9 Calgary
I’m most worried about marginalization of the product. Corporations have been lopping off fingers, toes, and thumbs to boost or maintain profit levels for years. Now there are no digits left, so they’re lopping off limbs, and it’s getting very noticeable in the quality of the product being put out.
What I see changing for the better is more time and effort on brand building. For the worse? More major dayparts getting filled by voice tracks.
The biggest problem radio faces in 2019 is declining marketing budgets. Our industry is still delivering the audiences, but other sectors are hurting so bad (small businesses especially) that the first thing they usually cut is their marketing budget.
To stay profitable, I think radio needs to forget the insane profit margins from 15-20 years ago and realize this is a still a very healthy business to be in. Maybe spend some time looking at other industries and understand that with the slivers of profit they’re squeezing out, we still have it good.
The format with the biggest growth next year will be AC. Soft or Traditional it doesn’t matter, it’s back. Plus, I expect to see some growth from Alternative to reflect what we’ve seen in the US.
I predict that in 2019 CHR is gonna have a comeback. This garbage music cycle they’ve been suffering through will come to an end.
Jj Johnston – CEO, President and Chief Programming/Talent/Content Coach – JJIMS INC.
I’m most worried about managers/leaders being so busy juggling so many tasks that talent is not getting the attention and nurturing needed to fulfill potential, and in some cases are giving up.
What I see changing is that smart speakers are a game changer. They are the new transistor radio, and we need to get on this quicker, teaching listeners how to use them to listen to our radio stations instantly. Try to buy a radio these days. Phones and smart speakers are today’s radios.
The biggest problem radio faces in 2019 is being so busy that the focus on talent takes a back seat.
To stay profitable, I think radio needs to keep a focus on talent development in all areas and of course content generation on-air. Good local content (local is what people locally are talking about). “Chemistry is great, but it is not content. Chemistry brings content to life.
The format with the biggest growth next year will be country. It’s smart, edgy, sexy and for the most part real or what could be real in clever story form (been like that forever). Amazing the younger demo that the format delivers. The audience comes in all shapes and sizes. Many more markets will have multiple country stations in the next few years.
I predict that in 2019 talent that works at being current, in touch, and relevant will continue to win. I won’t be surprised if changes happen to those who have quit but are still coming to work. If this is you, the best time to fix this by getting recommitted was a while ago; the next best time is now! Reach out, demand direction, find help in other places if necessary and do the work and make it happen every time you plug in.
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Christian Hall of Harvard is bang on. Radio’s worst enemy is E.P.S. Total focus on earnings per share is killing the talent. When the product goes south, so does the profit. An unwillingness to pay people and keep talent is killing the radio game. The talent pool is getting thin and the radio industry has no one to blame but the industry itself!