I was surprised to learn that local radio may be the next news medium to be in trouble in the age of smartphones and internet.
I was working for XM Satellite Radio when the supposed radio revolution was going on and despite all the hype of satellite, the people I talked to often said they missed the local news they got from FM but didn’t miss the rest of the content.
And as time has gone on and Sirius and XM haven’t overtaken all that much, I thought traditional radio was safe from the new media revolution. In part, because listening to the radio in your car is one of the most passive ways you will pick up news. But it’s also because it’s so passive that it ranks low on impact.
We briefly mentioned the advancement of internet radio in cars which I think could be an interesting product and unlike satellite, may help local stations. It’s far cheaper to stream your station online than try to join XM & Sirius programming. So if internet radio does become a real thing, local stations could still have a way to access that audience.
Now, one thing people always overlook about satellite and I’m sure it will apply to internet radio as well: Coverage.
Number one complaint I heard about XM was the reception in certain areas. People will not pay for a product that under performs their local stations in terms of quality of sound and the truth is there are many areas, even in cities where the signal quality of satellite is abysmal. And this would likely be true for internet radio as well (I would think they would rely on cellphone towers for WiFi reception) and as we know in this province, drive too far into the woods and it’s good luck to get reception.
If satellite and internet radio is the way of the future, there needs to be some improvement in distribution, especially in rural areas. At least for now local radio appeases its listeners by delivering what it promises, free local news with cheezy DJs.