Exploding radio

Exploding radio

: At the well-stocked snack table at the Foursquare conference, I spotted a badge that said “Sirius” and I dropped my muffin to make sure to congratulate the man for getting Howard Stern and helping to reinvent radio. I handed him my day-job card but also my blogcard, which advertises “blatherings on citizens’ media, politics, technology, and Howard Stern.” It’s my fan-club card. The nice man didn’t run away.

I suspect that Stern will be on satellite sooner than later. After a brief hiatus when he wouldn’t mentioned satellite for fear of causing some corporate upheaval at Viacom, Stern has started talking about it again and also has started making noise about whether Sirius will buy out his terrestrial contract so all can move on. There’s also been a little chatter about whether Viacom should buy Sirius but I doubt that.

This got me wondering about what I would do if I were in Viacom’s shoes. I hope they don’t pluck the nearest Stern clone. It’s hard to call that the “safe” choice but it is; it’s the obvious and dull choice. They need to reinvent radio.

But then I thought about the man with the Sirius badge. It’s so much easier for him to reinvent radio. And for you, you podcasters, you.

Broadcast radio is stuck in the same bind as the rest of old media: They’re mass in a new world of niches. They can’t afford to go niche; the franchise is too valuable, the revenue too big, the stockholders too antsy. They, like TV broadcasters, have to pray they find the next big thing (but not so big that they get fined to hell and back by the FCC).

What would you do if you were programming any of these entities? I’ll start a list. But I’d love to see what kinds of radio you’d like to hear — whether on broadcast or on satellite or via podcasting. My start:

: Reality radio: The best part of Stern besides Stern is his audience and their often startling creativity. Their song parodies and gags are often inspired (and, yes, just as often insipid). What about the first radio station that makes the audience the star, that highlights the best pieces and parodies and rants, challenging the people to create ever better bits. It works on broadcast or on the upstarts.

: Niche radio: The dating show — real people, real dates. The new-mom show. The divorce show. The retirement show. The job-hunting show. The gadget show…. This won’t work on broadcast. But it most definitely works on podcasting. And it works on satellite if they’d be smart enough to also podcast it so you don’t have to schedule listening. This isn’t appointment radio. It’s download radio.

: Reading radio: Read the stuff I don’t have to read — the latest issue of The New Yorker, the best op-eds, the occasional blog essay. Surprise me.

Just a start… what do you want to hear?