An article on a journalism blog has Public Radio and the future of “old” media in its crosshairs.
The question comes down to this:
Do we still need radio?
Public Radio Dangerously Close To Making Public Radio Obsolete on PaidContent.org argues that smart phones and apps to to turn phones into “radios” have made the old transistor obsolete:
Now with the addition of what’s playing on my favorite stations right now, I have a lot more choices in one screen that I had previously: so instead of enduring “A Prairie Home Companion” on the weekend (not my cup of tea), I could try “On The Media” on at the same time on WBEZ Chicago public radio. And if I happen to join a show after its start, chances are I can get the latest edition of the show on demand (helpfully linked from the live version). In the car, where a lot of public radio consumption happens (especially in SoCal) with one of the options to connect the iPhone to the radio speakers, it makes the local public radio station redundant, to a large extent. Of course you can argue this is only true for the 20 million or so iPhone users, but you can see this playing out on other smartphones like Android and others, when the same app launches of their platforms.
Rafat Ali frets that the funding mechanism for Public Radio — primarily local pledge drives — would suffer because people don’t have a connection to their local station.
The future will be the death of us all. And therein lies the Catch 24 for all media in the digital age. Content is still king and content still comes from local stations. If people enjoy the breadth of possibilities across the Public Radio spectrum and stop supporting their local stations, it seems likely that the content they enjoy would begin to disappear. So the key, one supposes, is whether the audience in this environment understands that.
American Public Media, the parent of MPR, is one of the entities that helped develop the application. Incidentally, MPR News has an IPhone app. You can learn more about it here.
I’m not exactly in the iPhone app demo. I don’t have a smart phone. I do have an iPod stuffed with all sorts of great music that I listen to while I’m mowing the lawn or am stuck in a big aluminum tube somewhere. I’ve tried using podcasts but I can’t get into the habit of updating them enough nor listening to them regularly. So even with this “tool,” I have not found I listen to less radio; I actually find myself listening to more.
How about you? How do you see your digital future?