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Saturday, August 20, 2005

 

RADIO FACES COMPETITION!

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MIKE WENDLAND: Michigan broadcasters don't fear satellite radio competition -- yet
BY MIKE WENDLAND FREE PRESS COLUMNIST
July 22, 2005
Satellite radio is all the buzz these days. But the Michigan Association of Broadcasters says that buzz just may be literal.
According to a Michigan State University report commissioned by the association and to be released at the association's annual meeting at the Soaring Eagle Resort in Mt. Pleasant today, only about 8% of the Michigan public has access to satellite radio and of them, fully 50% say they do not receive good reception when driving.
That's perhaps the most controversial finding to come from the report, which, considering the outfit that commissioned it, not surprisingly finds that the public is not being lured away from local radio by emerging technologies.
In fact, 70% of the 300 Michigan residents surveyed in April and May by MSU researchers said they listen to local radio stations as much now as they ever did and 95% said they expected to listen as much or more during the coming year.
"The facts show that the hype being put forth by emerging technologies doesn't align with the reality that local radio is uniquely positioned to provide the local touch listeners value," said Karole White, president and chief executive officer of the association, which represents 300 radio and television stations across the state.
The association did find one high tech trend that has surprisingly strong legs.
According to the Communications Research Institute at MSU, 20% of Michigan residents said they listen regularly to personal music players like Apple's iPod, typically 45 minutes a day.
The MAB will unleash an advertising campaign over the next few weeks that highlights the findings and promotes the strength of local radio, said White.
But for now, broadcasters say they're not worried about high tech gizmos stealing their audience.
Geek speak
They can also take solace in a study issued Wednesday by the Pew Internet & American Life Project that also pooh-poohed the impact of all the geek speak high-tech terms bandied about by computer types and tech writers.
It found that the public often hasn't a clue what the geeks are gushing about.
Pew says only 13% of the public knows what the term "podcasting" means, 9% have heard of "RSS feeds" and 19% know the word "phishing."
I confess. Like many of my peers, I bandy those words around like they're on the tips of everyone's tongues.
So, just to be clear:
•Podcasting is a means of publishing audio files and do-it-yourself radio-like programs over the Internet that can be downloaded and played through computers or personal music players.
•RSS feeds are Web-based notifications of updates of Internet stories or blog reports or even podcasts sent out to people who use software that seeks out and flags or somehow marks new material for them.
•Phishing is the act of fraudulently trying to trick someone into giving up sensitive financial information or personal identification data by masquerading as a legitimate outfit like eBay or your bank. Usually the scam involves a real-looking e-mail that directs you to a forged Web site that the identity thieves set up to capture any information you unwittingly provide.
There. I feel better. Do we understand each other?
iPod's halo
Three more surveys that came out this week show that some high-tech trends are getting traction.
According to the Needham & Co. high-tech consulting outfit, the so-called iPod halo effect that has spotlighted consumer interest in Apple may have attracted up to 400,000 Windows users to the Mac computer platform so far this year.
If true, that is a tremendously significant number for Apple, which over recent years has only had about 3% of the personal computer market share. New sales this year have seen the company increase that now to 4.5%, says the tech firm IDC.
And it comes on the heels of an estimate by TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence that more than 32 million adult Americans plan to buy an iPod within the next 12 months.
Somebody is pretty excited by all this technology. Which takes us back to the Michigan broadcasters.
The fact that they're planning a big advertising campaign on why radio is so cool tells me that, while they may not be worried about audience erosion today, they see where the trend lines are heading.
Contact MIKE WENDLAND at 313-222-8861 or mwendland@freepress.com.
Copyright © 2005 Detroit Free Press Inc.

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