NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith On Radio's Future At 2012 Radio Show
September 20, 2012
NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith gave his opening remarks on Wednesday to the 2012 Radio Show (produced by the NAB and RAB). After thanking all parties involved with this year's Radio Show and discussing the historical significance of holding the show in Texas, Smith looked to the future of the industry.
In his prepared speech, Smith said, "When I think about radio, the word 'courage' comes to mind." Smith discussed radio's efforts to help hurricane victims, which led to a discussion of radio FM chips on mobile devices and radio's power and reach beyond emergency text alerts.
Smith said, "Recently, NAB's technology experts set out to find out how many smartphones in today's market come equipped with radio chips. They discovered that all of the top 10 best-selling smartphones in the U.S. were already equipped with radio chips. But, unfortunately, none of them had the chip activated. Now some might see this as terrible news. But I'm an optimist. I think this information simply proves what an easy lift it would be for the wireless carriers to activate this service for the safety and convenience of their customers. These phones represent more than 70 percent of the smartphones sold during the first quarter of this year - that's 17 million units."
He continued, "Activating these radio chips presents huge opportunities for listeners, wireless companies and broadcasters alike. We just need to continue educating our friends in the wireless industry about the benefits of providing their customers with built-in radio. The bottom line is: radio provides a great service to the public … and we must continue to inform all Americans about the facts."
Smith added, "This technology creates revenue opportunities for wireless carriers, broadcasters and businesses, allowing targeted advertising that enables more interaction with consumers. Unlike streaming, built-in radio off-loads traffic from congested wireless systems, which can be critical in times of emergency. After all, no other form of communication can match broadcasting's one-to-everyone transmission architecture… there is no better reliable resource for information during times of crisis than broadcast stations. We know that our local communities depend on their stations to provide them with the news, emergency information and entertainment they rely on each day. Broadcasters take this responsibility very seriously… this is the heart of localism."
Looking to radio's "future," Smith said, "I believe radio's future hinges on innovation and our definition of the word 'future.' We must have the courage to face our future head on and ask ourselves, 'What do we want to be?' Is it terrestrial, or streaming or both? If both, how do we shape a strong future for both revenue streams? Earlier this year, one of the largest radio companies bet on the future of streaming. Some say this was a risky move. Others say it was bold and forward looking. I believe each company must evaluate its future and make its own bold decisions. Indeed, the agreement between Clear Channel and Big Machine may ultimately answer many questions about whether the future is streaming. But we can all agree that radio's future lies in being incorporated into every new device. And uniting in our advocacy will ensure we achieve that goal."