I had lunch this week with a long-time acquaintance who happens to be one of the most successful small market broadcasters in the country. His stations generate millions of dollars in ad sales and have for years. He asked us to come up and talk about the Internet and I was expecting the usual “Don’t waste your time on that Internet bullshit” line. So, when he said (paraphrasing here) if broadcasters don’t figure out the Internet, they’ll perish… the hair on my arms stood up. He went on to say he thought radio’s audience was as big as it’s ever going to get. And that most small market radio stations are breaking even at best. Oh, and he said he didn’t know any young people that listened to the radio these days. Digital radio? Gonna be bad, not good, for rural broadcasters. He said more but I was in such a state of shock I can’t recall everything.

And I’d heard it all before. Online, not from a life-time broadcaster. I didn’t get the impression he’s shared his concerns with other broadcasters. Sort of the elephant in the room that nobody is talking about. And I’m not going to out this guy. Besides, nobody would ever believe he said –or believes– any of the above.

This must have been the mood when the plains Indians saw the first wagon trains roll over the hill. It ain’t gonna ever be the same again. Might be good. Might be better. But it ain’t gonna be the same.

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