Customers and Consumers.

A-List blogger Doc Searls was once a radio guy and is not happy about the state of commercial radio. He makes a strong, clear point I’ve struggled with for 30 years.

“Commercial radio’s customers are its advertisers. It’s consumers are its listeners. Its business is selling air time to advertisers. It raises the value of that air time by attracting the largest possible number of listeners, in the most desirable demographics. How it does that is irrelevant to the business itself.”

He references a story by Jennifer Davies in the San Diego Union-Tribune (Corporate radio has pulled the plug on many a radio personality) that’s depressing –but hardly surprising– to this one-time DJ.

“The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there will be an almost 8 percent decline in need for broadcasting announcers in both radio and TV because of industry consolidation. In addition, pay for radio announcers is stagnating with the average hourly salary of around $9.”

And as for tomorrow’s listeners?

“Teen-agers no longer take their cues from radio, searching out new music online instead. Since 1998, teen-age males listen to the radio almost 7 percent less a week. Teen-age females’ weekly radio listening is down close to 9 percent. Teen-agers listen to the radio less than any other age group, according to Arbitron.”

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