Mark Ramsey is the latest pundit in our industry to get sucked into the idea that broadcasters should just turn off the transmitter and head out into the wild west of digital media. Mark, you’ve been sucked into an “either, or” argument here that is probably a “both” discussion. You’ve laid out two strategies that could easily be considered mutually exclusive of one another.
Putting an FM chip in more devices (phones, tablets, etc.) is a great strategy to prolong the useful life of the FM platform, and to deride broadcasters for doing everything possible to maximize the useful life of legacy technology is like deriding AT&T for continuing to offer phone service. The FM chip is a solid strategy that makes a lot of sense if you’re the one owning the licenses, transmitters, and towers. Despite the digital migration happening, terrestrial Radio is still very relevant as we sit here today; to suggest that broadcasters abandon a viable delivery channel is folly.
But adapting to the digital environment and offering content via online, mobile, and social media channels in addition to FM and AM also makes a lot of sense for most broadcasters. The challenge is transforming successfully from a pure-play Radio broadcaster to a multi-platform digital media company. The 2012 Future Of Radio Conference will be looking at this very question (www.futureofradioonline.com).
It’s possible to both agree with your assertion that Radio broadcasters need to be aggressive with R&D in the area of digital content, building infrastructure, acquiring new skill sets, and evolving sales strategy. But to suggest that should be (or has to be) at the expense of maximizing today’s core business just doesn’t seem fair to me.