Blurred Lines

Ben Milton

Ben Milton

You probably heard but just in case here is the big news of the week in radio.  Clear Channel changed their name to iHeart Media.  I had some mixed feelings about this to be honest.  Part of me was like “Yeah! They get it.  Be a media company and don’t tie yourself to one single distribution system.”  The other part was more of “What’s in a name?”  So let’s take a look at those two view points and how that applies to the rest of us.

AM/FM radio isn’t dead.  Not by a long shot.  It’s got millions of listeners and billions in revenue.  And yet the boys from Texas decided to rename their brand from a very inside radio name to a more digital friendly brand name.  Bob Pittman the CEO of iHeart Media will tell you that it’s because the lines are blurring between how people intake their content.  As of right now the majority of listening is still taking place on traditional radio but the fastest growth is happening digitally.   iHeart Media is clearly not afraid of the growth of digital media and in fact is embracing it.

The other side is this.  They changed their name.  Big deal.  Have they changed their business model at all?  Not really.  They are still primarily an AM/FM company.  They have big signals in big markets with big name DJ’s.  However, they have been carefully building the iHeart Radio brand for several years now.  They didn’t need to dramatically change their business model.  They’ve been building their digital footprint all along.  50 million subscribers are second in audience only to Pandora.  That’s where Bob Pittman understands and sees the blurred lines.

My question to you is this.  Are you still only a traditional radio broadcaster or have you started to look ahead like Radio Disney and iHeart Media have done?  Developing a strong digital presence doesn’t mean you have to stop doing traditional broadcasting.  Does your brand have the flexibility to blur the lines between traditional and digital?  Is your app something to really be proud of or is it in desperate need of love and attention?  What about your Facebook interaction?  Are you communicating with your audience there or are you broadcasting at them?  At the end of the day ask yourself are you a media company or a radio station.

September 30, 2014