IPod killed the Radio Star

I heard you on the wireless back in Fifty Two
Lying awake intent at tuning in on you.
If I was young it didn’t stop you coming through.

Video killed the radio star.
Video killed the radio star.
In my mind and in my car, we can’t rewind we’ve gone to far

radio.jpegThose are the lyrics from that mega smash song by The Buggles, the one hit wonders how celebrated the rise of video and MTV in that track. Fast forward a few generations, and it is clear that IPod killed the radio star. Today’s Barron’s (subscription required) has a fascinating story about how online music, and digital devices led by the iconic IPod are becoming a nail in the coffin of large radio companies, who broadband prefab format music with little or no attention to the popular musical tastes. “Across the country, listeners are changing how they choose to receive music and news and talk radio. They are turning to portable music players like Apple Computer’s iPod, streaming audio over the Internet and the emerging field of satellite radio to hear what they want, when they want to hear it,” writes, Sandy Ward in absolutely brilliant Barron’s cover story and continues, “Younger adults — the key targets of radio advertising — have clearly been losing their ardor for the medium. By one key measure, the number of listeners ages 18 to 34 has declined by about 8% in the past five years, as portable digital-music players, Internet radio programming and other innovations have started to take hold.”

While Barron’s is a chronicler of investments and Wall Street shenanigans, in this piece they have captured the true digital music zeitgeist. The advertising dollars are beginning to shrink in the commercial radio world. The stocks are taking a pounding, and it is only going to get worse.

“It’s over. Something good happened in the ‘Nineties; something less good has happened in the ’00s. Every retailer is blowing its budget on advertising and radio is not getting any of it. If they don’t get it now, they’re not going to,” Larry Haverty, a media specialist at State Street Research and Management in Boston, tells Barrons. “The death of radio has been heralded many times. Yet since its introduction to the mass market in the early 1920s, radio has survived — and thrived — because no other medium has been able to match its formatting flexibility, its local appeal, its immediacy and its low overhead. Not until now, at least. Cable companies, commercial-free (though fee-based) satellite radio, MP3 players and other digital wonders may at last be giving radio a run for its money,” sums up the weekly.