What is radio? Technically, it is the wireless transmission of electromagnetic radiation through space, in the frequencies below that of visual light. Papers are written and conferences held trying to define the changing nature of radio. New transmission methods push the boundaries of the definition. Ask any Internet radio host and they will gladly tell you about their “radio” show. Meanwhile, the industry veteran or radio traditionalist will insist that radio must originate from a 50,000 watt tower located on the outskirts of town. Just as a rose would smell the same by any other name, the definition of radio must change to include all of the transmission methods and business models that are redefining the landscape. Ask a 15-year-old or even 25-year-old what defines radio, and they mention top of the hour news, bumper music, and ads for local plumbers. They don’t care how they listen, but they expect the broadcaster to make it easy for them.
First of course was simple terrestrial radio. Then came the explosion of digital radio, satellite radio, and Internet radio. The lines continued to blur as terrestrial stations started Internet broadcasts. Now, a group out of Tampa is blurring the lines even more and is redefining what radio is all about. They are going against the prevailing wind it seems. AMFM 247 recently launched an Internet platform broadcasting a unique collection of talk shows and music. They believe that a mix of formats is what consumers really want and are willing to acknowledge that talk radio doesn’t do very well during the weekend, so you might as well play music.
But the most interesting thing that AMFM 247 is doing is that in addition to their collection of new distribution platforms (traditional Internet distribution, Roku for video distribution, iHeartradio, and iTunes), they are also devoted to building a network of terrestrial broadcast platforms. Station founder and CEO Stuart Vener explains, “Radio is becoming more and more important, with more and more listeners. The need for terrestrial will never go away, so we are trying to do both. The future of radio is clearly the Internet, but you can’t discount the importance of terrestrial. People are still driving their cars and want to listen to the radio then.”
The station, only a month old, has already built an impressive collection of terrestrial stations. In Tampa, they broadcast on AM 1630 and FM 102.1. They are on both AM and FM stations in Las Vegas, Macon, Georgia, and Lancaster, Pennsylvania. They are adding stations in New Hampshire and other markets soon. Jason Dowd, station Executive Producer, explains, “We wanted to diversify and feel that it is important to be on traditional radio stations also, and any other types of outlet that can benefit the host or listeners.”
Jason continues, “The more places that you are, the more exposure that you get, the better numbers will be. And that will bring in the money. Our investors felt like it was in needed thing for radio. Right now you see traditional radio or Internet radio. They saw the potential of taking it of making it both. The trick is to the existing terrestrial radio station a little more appealing.”
It remains to be seen of course how the finances will shake out. AMFM 247 has just launched. But most of the other internet platforms are still working for a profitable model too. We will discuss other business models in future posts and look at other stations to study how they are trying to monetize their content.
Jason wraps it up this way, “We want people from ages 18 to 90, homemakers, CEOs, health nuts, political nuts, the business and financial people. We want everyone they can benefit from this to listen to it and enjoy it, but we also want to make sure it can be listened to anywhere.”
-Jim Beach, School for Startups and Restaurant Owner Radio Host and McGraw-Hill Best Selling Author