It has been just over four years since I first heard about “Internet Radio”. Yea, I know…where was I? I still consider myself relatively new to the internet. Many from my age group (I’m 56) have found embracing the web more than a little difficult and I still struggle a bit…I admit it. But, I do realize how the web has changed the world and that the future success of any entity will depend largely upon how well it adapts to change, and more specifically the changes brought about by the internet.
Radio is certainly one of those entities that must adapt. It (radio) has been a major piece of all our lives and has in some way helped to mold who we have become. The radio of yesterday delivered music, news, and life outside our communities, initially to small pockets of those within reach, the through syndication the most popular programming found its way to larger audiences. And for those lucky enough to pick up (and old enough to remember) the nightly propagation of radio waves from far- away stations remember what a treat that was. I remember the first FM station to serve the area in which I grew up. The sound was so powerful and clear. Then the first time I heard radio in stereo, I couldn’t believe how far we had come.
All of the advancements discussed in the last paragraph occurred over forty years ago. So, I suppose change in this medium was long overdue. Today internet radio is growing at an astounding rate. One only has to look at the growth of internet usage to get an idea of the magnitude of change that is occurring daily. I recently read a study that claims one of the largest segments of internet growth is seniors. Most seniors have more leisure time to spend on the web and therefore make a great audience for internet radio. Interestingly, this goes against much of the business planning evident in many mainstream corporations who are embracing the 18 to 35 year old demographic as if others do not exist. The whole “social” revolution…or evolution whichever fits best has made being “connected” almost a requirement nowadays.
Internet radio is most definitely the future of radio. Automobiles are being produced with internet access, internet radio receivers are available for homes, it is being installed in new generation TVs, and in a matter of a very few years wireless internet will be available in most parts of the world. This makes one wonder how traditional radio will survive. Most stations are now streaming their programming on the web, but what will happen to the locally targeted broadcasts and the culture of radio as we have known it? When our generation, and possibly the next, passes will anyone be tuning into traditional radio. Most youth of today do not. Ipods changed their habits in an instant. Only time will tell-along with the willingness of traditional stations to adapt to the challenges of change they face. Even though I am in the internet radio business, I’m somewhat saddened by the passing of the traditional radio era. I suppose that is part of getting older. I’m just not fond of the passing of eras, but I am willing to adapt. Apparently you are too.