In an op-ed column for The Hollywood Reporter, CBS Radio President/CEO Dan Mason pens a response to an article the magazine ran last week, titled "How Radio Will Kill The Radio Star." The original piece focused on radio's biggest names getting older, with a lack of new stars to replace them.
Mason retorts that "The good news for those who like radio is that reports of our untimely demise are not only premature but, well, just plain wrong. These kinds of stories conveniently fail to take into account that, according to Arbitron, more than 92 percent of the U.S. population still regularly tunes in to over-the-air stations, with millions more listening online and via mobile devices."
Mason notes that with streaming apps, new formats, HD Radio and video, the number of people listening to radio monthly has increased. He adds that "the formats and personalities that are most popular today are not the same as they were 10, five or even just a few years ago. But that shouldn't surprise anyone, as audience preferences change. In fact, talk radio formats targeted to the 18-to-34 and 25-to-54 demographics are still thriving, with hosts of similar age taking the leading role engaging listeners in topical discussions about news, sports and pop culture and exposing them to new music."
He concludes that "Changing directions is never easy, but ultimately it must be done. You might never hear another Tom Leykis, Howard Stern or Rush Limbaugh on your local radio station. That's not to diminish their long history of success or their loyal followings. Programming that appeals to those audiences might very well find a new home on satellite or via podcasting or online streaming. It's great that those options exist. But when it comes to the entire radio marketplace, our job is to create content that appeals to a wide range of listeners and advertisers -- whether that's talk, music or news. Our future is not determined by one specific format or the people who pioneered a genre. I'd say it's just the opposite: Our diversity and the ability to adapt to the changing environment will always put us in a position to win."