Radio 2.x

AM radio in an old chevy convertible

On Quora, somebody asks, How can the radio industry stay relevant in the age of streaming music and podcasts? Here’s my answer:

It already is, if you consider streaming music and podcasting evolutionary forms of radio.

But if you limit the meaning of radio to over-the-air broadcasting, the relevance will be a subordinate one to what’s happening over streaming, cellular and Internet connections, podcasting, satellite radio, digital audio broadcast (DAB) and various forms of Internet-shared video (starting with, but not limited to, YouTube).

The main way over-the-air radio can remain relevant in the long run is by finding ways for live streams to hand off to radio signals, and vice versa. Very little effort is going into this, however, so I expect over-the-air to drift increasingly to the sidelines, as a legacy technology. Toward this inevitable end, it should help to know that AM is mostly gone in Europe (where it is called MW, for MediumWave). This follows in the tracks of LW (longwave) and to some degree SW (shortwave) as well. Stations on those bands persist, and they do have their uses (especially where other forms of radio and Internet connections are absent); but in terms of popularity they are also-rans.

BUT, in the meantime, so long as cars have AM and FM radios in them, the bands remain relevant and popular. But again, it’s a matter of time before nearly all forms of music, talk and other forms of entertainment and sharing move from one-way broadcast to every-way sharing, based on digital technologies. (Latest example: Clubhouse.)

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