Big Opportunities For Radio

Written by Scott Herrold. Posted in Uncategorized

Last week, Radio Ink published a story about how major car companies could pull AM/FM radio from their new car designs within the next to years. The good news is that General Motors & Ford are listening. They responded saying they generally do plan to keep AM/FM in their cars.

I was at that Convergence Digital Media Conference in Silicon Valley and there was a great discussion on stage with reps from the auto companies talking about how AM/FM radio could drastically change in the future with IP based audio. I do not believe radio is dead, but I think there’s some BIG things that we need to be aware of as we develop our strategy for the next 5 years. Click here for the my thoughts.

Here’s a recording of some thoughts on radio from Jim Buczkowski, Ford’s head of Electrical & Electronic Systems for Ford.

The automakers at Convergence explained with the current pace of technology it takes 3 years to develop a new car. So from the engineering/design stage until it hits the streets- it takes 3 years. The average car on the road in the US is 11 years old right now. That is an ALL TIME high, so lots of cars will be turning over soon. Ford said with smart phone users, 60% of them say that Ford Sync is a primary reason they are shopping for a Ford over other car makers.

I asked a few questions to the auto makers about the connected car and they said a couple interesting things:

  1. They told us that some “non American” car makers may have a different view of AM/FM radio than Americans do. Different countries have different technology infrastructures than we do here in America, so it’s important to remember that companies from Japan, Germany, China & England etc may have different views & uses for apps, AM/FM radio & IP audio.  One car maker challenged the radio industry “to innovate around IP based audio technology for radio in order to compete in the digital dashboard.”
  2. They said every piece of technology eventually moves from analog to digital. Radio is the only analog thing in the digital dashboard.
  3. Radio is the only thing without 2 or 3 way communication with the consumer in the digital dashboard. In addition, radio is the only thing that doesn’t display graphics/pictures on the dashboard.
  4. On the digital dashboard, there are not mechanical preset buttons for radio like we have always had. It’s just a touch screen. Radio is one of many tabs on the touch screen. When you click the radio tab, you will see touch buttons for your radio presets. You will only see the radio presets when you click the radio tab.
  5. When a consumer is using the GPS on the digital dashboard, he has to click about 3 buttons in order to change the radios station because the GPS is using the entire screen. (Unless us uses the steering wheel controls to change the radio)
  6. At this time, none of the car companies allow you to actually load your app directly on your car’s dashboard screen. Your car dashboard just connects to your cell phone via blue tooth or a dock. Basically, you are downloading & controlling all your apps from your cell phone. Even Ford Sync App link technology does not allow you to put an app on the dashboard directly at this time. It’s just voice control and steering wheel control of from Ford Sync that connect to the app on your phone. It’s not loading your app as a preset on your dashboard.
  7. There are some apps pre-loaded apps on the digital dashboards of the new cars, but at this time, you cannot add or change them. The apps like Pandora/IheartRadio etc are chosen by each individual car manufacturer.
  8. Posting apps on the dashboard is also an revenue source for the auto makers.

Like I said, I don’t believe radio is dead, but there are some huge opportunities for us to step up, innovate and use technology to better serve our listeners!


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Scott Herrold

Morning Show Personality/Program Director/Creative Ninja at SOS Radio in Vegas.

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