Radio has survived and thrived for years beyond what self-proclaimed cultural and technological “experts” predicted.
Terrestrial radio may someday be eclipsed by satellites and cyberspace, but WAMC President and CEO Alan Chartock says --- not in the near future
"Everybody thought that when Sirius came along, XM, that would be it. But a lot of people forgot the equation of locality and what local radio does in your area. They also forgot the concept of community - because there is some community around many radio stations, including this one which I think has a superb community that listens to it and uses it as a common currency as they talk to each other about what's going on. So, I think radio's in pretty good shape."
Whoever thought "video killed the radio star" didn't see this coming. Cameras have been installed in studios. Radio's presenters and narrators have become coders and videographers, empowered with tools to exploit every avenue of the digital environment to tell stories and engage listeners, who can SEE the faces behind voices, like... WAMC's Ray Graf.
"The cameras started when we were doing the Round Table on cable TV. So, we've had them there for years, and you just sort of forget about them."
Stations like WAMC have recognized the importance of websites and podcasts to reach listeners who might be closer to a smart phone than a traditional radio nowadays. According to Editor and Publisher, a trade publication, the median age of NPR listeners is 49, but the median age of podcast listeners is 36, meaning the next generation of radio content users might be more apt to listen on other devices.
Chartock has a finger on radio's pulse.
"Some radio stations are doing quite poorly. As Dave Galletly* always put it, ' a dollar a holler ' and they're not doing well. But public radio is doing extremely well because it caters to a niche in the population: bright people who want to know something about Democracy. And as I have said so many times, you can't have democracy unless you have information."
The global digital culture enables producers and journalists to reach out with ease to find contacts and sources through email, text messaging, Twitter and Facebook --- the audience is invited to interact with radio and TV personalities as well as print journalists.
Danielle Sanzone is a reporter with the Record newspaper in Troy.
"We all have facebooks. Every day I always say what I am doing for The Record on my Facebook account, and that's also through Facebook posts, through comments there, people can also interact with me and ask me questions. A lot of times when I'm doing an interview I ask what people want to knwo about a certain topic."
Though we've yet to see the moving photographs like the ones appearing on newspapers in the Harry Potter movies, Sanzone says the time for two-way is upon us.
"We wanna get things from our notebook to people's mobile devices and laptops as soon as possible. Just like a TV station or just like any other media outlet."
Chartock believes radio trumps other devices when it comes to easy access.
"Because when people get in their cars, they're not gonna put on all the stuff from their - that they've done at home, and prepared playlists and all of that stuff, they're gonna be much more likely to just turn the radio on, and hear the news of the day and what's happening in their areas and in adjacent areas. So, the way that I'm seeing it is, news of radio's death has been somewhat premature."
With the appearance of video on radio and newspaper websites, technology has lapped itself in a race to provide content to a planet hungry for information... what comes next for radio will likely transcend whatever we imagine...
*David Galletly, retired WAMC Vice President, had been with the station for 35 years.