I did an interview with Mark Ramsey about the future of radio. Here’s a little squib about the four ways I think the medium might go:
Scenario A: Everyone has Wi-Fi or WiMAX in their car. Once that happens, we’re not talking about 200 XM radio stations, we’re talking about 2 million, and all bets are off.
Scenario B: The aftermarket people get very focused on putting hard drives and iPod docks in cars. If that happens, again, radio is in trouble, because people are gonna bring their own pre- recorded content with them.
Scenario C: We end up in the satellite world, they figure out how to get a little bit more content through those pipes and we end up with 300 or 400 channels in the car. I had XM radio for a year to check it out. What’s interesting is it doesn’t matter how many stations there are, sooner or later you end up with four. And so the thing is, what do you have to do to be one of the four, and how do you live in a world where you’ve got hundreds of competitors a click away, but if you spend all your time not offending anybody, you’ll never get anybody.
Scenario D: A hybrid of what we’ve got now: Traditional analog radio combined with HD combined with satellite. This scenario will, I think, not make anybody particularly happy, because the advertisers are going to be faced with an increasingly splintered audience that’s hard to address, and as a result, it will be hard for that local car dealership or that politician to do a sensible radio buy.
The idea of radio… audio determined by an external editor… isn’t going away any time soon. People like it.