Could NAB Botch the FM Chip Any Worse?


When’s the last time you heard Gordon Smith say anything good about radio? When’s the last time you saw the NAB out-front promoting radio, countering the endless parade of moronic musings about the death of radio?

Go on the NAB website. Does that look like an organization that represents the best interests of radio and understands radio’s challenges? At least the NAB quietly killed the embarrassing Radio Heard Here campaign.

Go to the news section and see how many press releases the NAB has issued in the past couple of years pointing out the continued relevance and popularity of radio. You won’t find any but you will find out that the NAB is supporting the US bid for FIFA’s World Cup! They sure have their priorities straight.

Then go to the RAB website, and then the Arbitron website.

The fact is that radio’s leaders have done a terrible job combating the continuing attacks by new-media stakeholders who want to convince Congress, the FCC, mainstream media, venture capital, and the public that radio is on its death bed.

As a result, large numbers of people believe the propaganda. They believe that radio really is irrelevant in a digital world.

Radio’s leaders have let radio slip right off the radar screen. Sure 90% of Americans listen to it every week. Sure they spend as much time with radio as they do the Internet, but somehow that doesn’t matter.

Radio doesn’t matter because radio acts like it doesn’t matter.

So when the NAB and RIAA worked out a backroom deal to require an FM chip in cellphones, of course the pundits went crazy. It just looks like a couple of drowning major businesses trying to stay afloat by climbing on the backs of new-media.

Because the NAB and radio’s leaders never built a consumer-based argument for adding an FM chip, Gary Shapiro of the Consumer Electronics Association could accuse radio of being a buggy-whip business, and get away with it. 

Now at a time when radio needs the goodwill that a sustained campaign of promoting radio could have given it, we have nothing.

This episode–regardless of how it turns out, just further confirms radio’s lack of leadership and radio’s inability to adapt.

Maybe radio really is a buggy-whip business.

— Glenda Shrader Bos & Richard Harker of Harker Research