During a virtual meeting of the TALKERS editorial board over the holiday break, Michael Harrison outlined a simple prescription for radio to thrive in 2023 and beyond. Updating an ongoing message that he’s delivered several times in recent years at industry conventions, the trade journal’s founder stated that in order for radio to survive – let alone thrive – in the ever-changing digital era, it must provide the absolute best audio communications available anywhere.
Harrison explained, “Broadway has to provide the absolute best live theater experience in the nation for people to go put up with the cost and hassle of attending. Professional sports leagues must produce a product better than sandlot for people to continually take notice. Hollywood must produce the best movies for people to actual go back to the cinema or pay for streaming. Real news organizations have to be more credible, reliable and factual than some guy on a computer in his parents’ basement. In turn, radio must ooze the definition of ‘big time’ through the speakers when it comes to the presentation of audio communications. The medium and its industry cannot afford on any level – local or national – to be schlock. I don’t care if there are 10 zillion podcasts out there – other than the specialty ones that target extremely limited and niche audiences – the cream of the crop will always come down to a rarified handful.” According to Harrison, radio has to be “the big-time audio medium with the best information, personalities, talk shows, musical presentation and production values or it will surely perish in the face of the growing onslaught of grassroots digital media.” He concludes, “Only then can it restore the magic and prestige to the word ‘radio’ that has kept the medium alive for the past 100 years – regardless of its current technological platforms or receiving appliances. To use a popular sports phrase, radio controls its own destiny.”