Open Letter to Radio 2018: We’re Making the Turn with Abundant Wind at Our Back

An Open Letter to the U.S. Radio Industry,

The last 12 months have seen a variety of significant milestones involving AM/FM Radio.

Some of the most notable events include:

– iHeart is in the process of massively cutting its debt as it navigates bankruptcy.

– Entercom closed on its acquisition of CBS Radio.

– Cumulus emerged from bankruptcy.

– Nielsen has included radio data in advertiser planning tools including Local Media Impact, a cross-platform resource.

– P&G, the world’s largest advertiser, rediscovered the power of radio to sell its premium consumer products to our employed listeners.

The magnitude of these changes, both individually and collectively, is difficult to fully quantify at the moment, but the significance will be felt for years to come.

Each one serves to enhance the vibrancy and strength of AM/FM radio, the 800# gorilla of audio.

Meanwhile on the digital audio side:

– Amazon eliminated its investment in original podcasting on the Audible platform.

– Pandora, once believed to be a “radio killer,” has seen Spotify overtake its lead for Average Active Sessions.

In fact, “winning” the streaming battle is proving to be a hollow victory. As revenues have grown for both platforms, so have the losses, while spot revenue for AM/FM continues to put billions to the bottom line nationwide.


Spotify has lost nearly $2 billion and Pandora has lost more than $1 billion in recent years. For its part, when talking about Apple Music, CEO Tim Cook says, “we’re not in it for the money.”

In a recent Fast Company article, Cook continues, “Music inspires, it motivates. It’s also the thing at night that helps quiet me. I think it’s better than any medicine.”

With a perspective like that, it’s not much of a surprise that Apple has long been critical of platforms using algorithms to select the music. As their CEO says, “We worry about the humanity being drained out of music, about it becoming a bits-and-bytes kind of world instead of the art and craft.”

The “art and craft” of song selection sounds very much like a tip of the hat to radio programmers, from the head of the first U.S. based trillion dollar company nonetheless.

As we embark upon another Labor Day weekend (the unofficial holiday for radio’s core, employed listeners), there’s ample reason for those working in and around radio to appreciate the current wind at our backs.

Let’s use this momentum to enhance our core business model and push even harder to drive overall growth for our industry to $20 billion by 2022 (#20×22) as we continue to serve our local communities (links refer back to the previous Open Letters to Radio).

On behalf of Catherine Jung, Doug Smith and everyone here at DMR/Interactive, thanks for working to drive radio forward.

Happy Labor Day,

Andrew Curran
President and COO
DMR/Interactive

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