Are you mature enough to remember when radio was a significant influence in your life? I wasn’t old enough for the golden age of radio – Amos N Andy, The Thin Man, Tommy Dorsey, and the like – but for me radio was the soundtrack of my childhood in the sixties and seventies. Numerous musicians and writers talk about listening to radio in their formative years. Boz Scaggs said, “I’ve always listened to the black side of the radio dial. Where I grew up, there was a lot of it.” And Salman Rushdie wrote, “In the ‘50s, listening to Elvis and others on the radio in Bombay – it didn’t feel alien. Noises made by a truck driver from Tupelo, Mississippi, seemed relevant to a middle-class kid growing up on the other side of the world.” Of course we’ve all seen the movies where a pre-teen in the fifties or sixties brings his radio to bed and listens to faraway stations under the covers. And speaking of movies, nostalgic shows like American Graffiti and Diner used radio broadcasts as their defining soundtracks. Cousin Brucie, indeed.
Like many things we loved when we were younger, radio grew long in the tooth and lost its vibrancy to the encroaching powers of commercialism and new technology. Local DJs and programming went the way of the dodo bird as multi-state networks such as CBS and Clear Channel gobbled up hometown stations. Real live voices with local accents and geographically specific music gave way to computer-generated song lists and nationally recognized celebrities and bland voiceovers. And many listeners abandoned traditional radio when they turned to iPods, CD players, satellite radio and Internet music providers such as Boomer Radio, Pandora, Spotify, iTunes, and others.
But while the industry is being consolidated, disrupted, and disintermediated, it’s also being innovated. And entrepreneurs are figuring out what they can do with the newly democratized technology.
On April 23, 2014 Apple announced a new milestone when it uploaded one billion podcast subscriptions via its iTunes store. “From comedy to hard news to sport to innovative educational content and so much more, podcasting has transformed the global media landscape,” Apple said. “The heart of podcasting is finding your favorite voices in this exciting field, and subscribing to the best ones.”
One billion! And that’s just from Apple’s servers. Clearly podcasting is not a passing fad but a genuine and quantifiable new media. Perhaps it will actually be more influential than traditional terrestrial radio. Maybe it already is.
Speaking of influential new radio ideas, my friends Marcy Rosenbaum and Seth Werner have just thrown their hats into the fray, debuting their online streaming concept, Entrepreneur Radio. According to their website, “we provide programming in the ‘how of success’ for people launching and growing new businesses. We provide unique insight and perspective into the entrepreneurial mindset through in-depth interviews with successful business creators.”
Rosenbaum, a management development coach and Internet radio pioneer, and Werner, a veteran real estate and finance businessperson interview successful entrepreneurs and ask them how they started their companies and what they’ve learned – what worked, what didn’t, and what they wish they had done differently. Every two weeks, they upload new interviews with business creators who are willing to share the true stories of how they got where they are. It’s one part inspiration, two parts information, and a whole lot of entertainment. With their direct and insightful questions, Werner and Rosenbaum draw out honest, personal perspectives you won’t hear anywhere else.
I was lucky enough to be the first guest they interviewed. Not truly convinced of my own entrepreneurial standing, I mostly talked about the most powerful entrepreneur I was lucky enough to know – my father. By sharing the things he taught me I figured I could both honor his memory and provide the show’s listeners with real, proven information and anecdotes they can use to build their businesses. Give it a listen HERE and let me know what you think.
Only time will tell if Entrepreneur Radio has figured out how to take advantage of radio’s future. But it’s clear that Marconi’s invention is now about on-demand programming and unrestricted access to voices and information free of corporate filters.