Future of Radio: Is It the End for Terrestrial Radio?

Radio is alive and well so we’ll let this Off The Leash guest poster report the Pew study and all.

off the leash

In my series of posts on the history of radio, one was titled “Video Didn’t Kill the Radio Star After All.” It was about the time when television became popular, the late 40’s and early 50’s, and the networks, NBC, ABC and CBS, virtually abandoned radio. Many, including the guys who ran those networks which supplied the most popular of radio programming, were ready to write the medium off.

Radio MastBut instead of fading away, radio had a revival. Transistors, car radios, teenagers, DJ’s, rhythm and blues and rock and roll all combined to make radio more popular than ever with both more listeners and more influence on a few successive generations of Americans.

Fifty years later, many are again questioning the future of radio. With streaming services, Spotify and Pandora, with satellite radio, podcasts and internet radio, with smartphones that allow you to carry your whole music collection…

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Radio need never worry about Ransomware bringing your air down.

We’ve all done it. It’s easy to slip up and open an email or document that comes in that you may have not recognized. New employees or Interns aren’t the only ones that visit virus-loaded Websites. And that is what the scammers that send out in email or post on Web sites are counting on.

When you are a client radio station or Ransom Note Message Threat Kidnapping Demand 3d Illustrationproducer, your entire programming data can be restored and you’re back on the air in less than an hour of contacting us! Just one of the free services offered from our secure delivery platform. Thanks for using SyncBP.

Here’s a related story from today.

Ransomware attacks Mondelez, as well as other global companies

What is happening to the broadcast industry right now.

There’s a lot of growth activity happening in the company right now and not surprisingly, when you have computers doing more of the work for you, the more free time you have. Isn’t that amazing?

A favorite article from a few years ago came to mind when thinking of ways to explain to you what is happening to the radio industry right now.

As this company designs strategic (and technical) solutions for some of the problems facing media in general and broadcast specifically, it’s important to know that going forward through the fire will take a stronger constitution and a greater flexibility than the broadcast business has had to face in its lifetime. Please click below for an explanation of dematurity and how this is what is happening to radio at this very minute.


Time to let go of the past and work the present rather than sit back and try to predict the future.

The title is paraphrased from a beautiful article written by Greg Satell for Forbes and re-posted below for your convenience as was another great piece posted just before this, written by Dick Taylor that I encourage you to also read. Two influencers writing about subjects close to our heart. I hope this means that the world view on digital media is catching up with our plan which was formulated way back in 1992!

Our plan has been slightly tweaked and modernized and the business summary rewritten over 70 times in two decades (to personalize and update it) but it is the same plan we envisioned in 1992 as to how we saw the future of broadcast media and advertising going into the digital future.

After inventing and launching the very first in the world national, digital delivery network for radio commercials called Digital Generation Systems (1990), we were forced into “selling it off” to the VC and their partners (who sold it to Scott Ginsberg-he, btw, did an outstanding job of running the company as it was). We took that opportunity for a long six month vacation to rest and come up with our next step to take broadcast programming into the digital future. Mind you, this was before the Internet was a public resource.

Using AOL and Compuserve along with all the local bulletin boards and The Well was all there was back then. Clumsy, slow to load and user unfriendly, I set out to make the Internet as easy to use as television. That’s literally the goal that SpotMagic, Inc. started with in 1993.

In 1993, hubs and I sold some of our DG founder stock to AT&T ventures and moved into 1700 California Street in SF and set up house with the business downstairs. I never liked commuting to 100 Spear St. and then paying for parking…and wearing a suit!

We hired a couple people then raised capital and took on investors until we had 40 employees! Before we reorganized and downsized in 1996, we first made an early prototype product and sold it online. Just a couple of the best people stayed on with us as we made the jump to remote working. In 1997, out of lockup from DG’s IPO, I sold some stock and bought a nice house in Santa Barbara. We moved there while also keeping a cheaper office overlooking the cable car turnaround. It’s with these few people that we kept on working to finish a full up software solution by 1998. We searched around until we found a niche and ended up employing our software solution in 1999 as a graphical, Interactive, play along TV application (not just text the way GE had tried to launch in 1996 with a product called Wink). It was working in perfect sync with over the air TV broadcasts and had Sony Television actually paying us to participate in real time gaming for viewers of the Game Show Network.

After the tech bubble burst in late 1999 and the fallout reaching into 2000, then we all know when 911 happened that it put the ad business as well as an enormous amount of startups into the toilet. Sony had already pulled out and sold off their ITV division by then so next, we built hardware and installed a few interactive digital signage projects putting kiosks into places like SF MOMA, Military buildings, and the brand new Williams Sonoma store in New York and in SF.

This time, it was a rough financial drought that caused me to sell my million dollar home and go scrounging at the lowest levels in my life just trying to stay alive for a few years. Time marched on and very few projects trickled in until a big ray of hope plopped on our active doorstep in 2010. We answered the call, built an elegant working prototype solution only to have it politically blocked for no good reason except that they could stop a smaller company from upstaging their own, failed prototype that did not work. They are one of the world’s biggest companys and they killed our chance to put our beautifully designed, digitally controlled, automated pay, tracking rack solution (fixing a pain in the ass problem) for five gallon water bottles in all of the Home Depot stores.

Before that though, we had again begun knocking on radio’s door without much success until in 2011 when we had a finished and approved contract sitting waiting to be signed on a desk at Citadel. A short- lived dream as it was promptly tossed in the round file when within 2 weeks in August of 2011, Cumulus bought Citadel, effectively putting a stop to our first contractual radio job.

Moving on, we kept calling everyone we knew in the industry just trying to get attention to show radio how we could now deliver long-form programming and as we could also carry the spots, we effectively were in direct competition with our previous company, DG Systems. Asking for an investment/partnership, we told DG what we were doing and after showing them how our system worked, they promptly decided to really get out of the business this time. I had already sold all my shares in DG but it was still a weirdly nice feeling to think we may have intimidated them a little.

Before finishing this history I want to state that our media business goal is to let the computer do what it’s good for; doing all the redundant tasks we can find in sales, production, delivery, playout, tracking and accounting in order to free up the time for broadcasters to do the creative work and local selling that only they can do. There are more helpful features coming so stay tuned.

After getting a foothold in 2012 with our very first client – the late, great Charlie Tuna – it was by sheer determination that we continued bootstrapping by any means possible to have continued on with just one client for our first official year in business.  Five short years later we have quite a number of clients using our automated delivery system taking shows from producer to air with a single button click. As it stands today, we deliver 75k hours of programming and over 850,000 spots per month and looking at breaking the one million per month mark in about 45 days. We’ve built a very powerful system and yet, it’s extremely easy to use. A few clients have nearly been brought to tears when they realized that high tech doesn’t always have to be expensive, hard or confusing to use.

We continue to build and bring out new features including our newest and a most important feature of LIVE, Live broadcast which we needed to be able to deliver sports and talk shows.

I encourage you to take the guided, online tour of the system to see for yourself how elegant and easy a truly useful software can be. We’ll have our private suite at the NAB again next month for a limited few interested parties to meet and greet, but if you leave your contact info, we’ll get back to set up an online tour of our system for all of your radio group at one time.

Now please enjoy the wisdom of the smartest futurist guy I know, Mr. Greg Satell.


My oh MAYA

This pretty much sums up what’s happening around here.


81Have you ever heard of the MAYA Principle? Neither had I. But I saw an article in The Atlantic titled “The Four-Letter Code to Selling Just About Anything, what makes things cool” and I wondered if there might be some application for radio.


MAYA stands for “Most Advanced. Yet Acceptable.”

It means that as you design your product or business for the future you need to keep it in balance with your users’ present. In other words, as Tony Bennett might have sang, “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.”

This 1931 jazz composition by Duke Ellington was given the MAYA treatment by Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga in 2014. Proving anything that’s old can be new again.

Age of Distraction

I doubt anyone would take issue with the statement that the 21st Century is the “Age of Distraction.” I…

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Radio Stations Stealing Programming

stealing-from-quoraIn the last couple of years,  as a company, we’ve uncovered a handful of mostly small stations that were pirating syndicated shows via ftp site downloads. That’s money stolen right out of the syndicators and the advertisers’ pocket. Just this week, however, we uncovered two stations, one a major on the East Coast, airing programming for their own benefit, i.e., not picking up the Nationals; or in the case of other shows put up on ftp sites with the nationals attached, stripping out the nationals and replacing them with their own local spots.

Synchronicity isn’t policing the airwaves or searching out these stations. The stations reveal themselves when they can no longer get the show from the ftp site. When we run into a station that is not playing by the rules, there’s no judgement or penalty, we just simply put the syndicator in touch with the station and let them work it out. Pirating programming is only one reason (albeit the worst reason) why using ftp sites for digitally delivered programming is a bad idea and now, an outdated concept.

One of the tasks that Synchronicity provides is the security that no unauthorized playout of programming happens. Combined with our weekly, validated affidavit feature, there is really no reason to use ftp or satellite delivery as a means to receive broadcast programming.


The Day the “Dumbest Idea” Invaded the Radio Industry

From Dick Taylor’s best of 2016. Here is my favorite blog post.


shareholder valueLast week I wrote about killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. It was my way of comparing the Aesop fable to the world of American radio. It got a lot of discussion. But I felt that while I touched on how radio operators twenty years ago wanted to harvest all the golden eggs immediately versus waiting to get one each day, by virtue of a last minute insertion into the Telcom Act of 1996 that basically removed the ownership caps on radio, there was – as Paul Harvey used to intone – ‘the rest of the story’ to be told.

The rest of the story involves “the dumbest idea.” I grew up about a decade after World War Two ended. This was the period when America enjoyed an extended period of economic growth and a shared prosperity. By “shared prosperity” I mean it was a time when…

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