DMR/Interactive's Curran Pens Annual Open Letter to Radio


Radio consumption is driven by employed listeners across North America, making Labor Day radio's unofficial holiday. For the 4th year in a row, DMR/Interactive President and COO Andrew Curran has penned an Open Letter to Radio. Previous themes have included the predictable surge in radio listening and charitable donations following a natural disaster, which are timely once again with Hurricane Dorian bearing down on Florida.

As the 2017 column pointed out, "When a natural disaster strikes, people don't 'rediscover' radio any more than people 'rediscover' generosity." Their daily media habits and charitable giving are magnified.

In the inaugural edition, radio was implored to "rediscover its swagger." And last year, the industry was reminded of radio's resilience as "Pandora, once believed to be a ‘radio killer,' has seen Spotify overtake its lead."

This time around, Curran reminds radio about advertising giant Procter & Gamble's sage advice to "focus on your bread and butter" namely broadcast radio. The Open Letter also encourages each person working in radio to "get better" and follow championship athletes who evaluate their progress against prior versions of themselves, not against external benchmarks such as the performance of others.

As the radio industry finishes the current year and prepares for 2020, which will set the tone for a new decade and celebrate the 100th anniversary of radio, the latest Open Letter to Radio provides another round of professional inspiration heading into the holiday weekend.

Here's the full version:

Labor Day 2019

An Open Letter to Radio:

The last time the Radio Show came to Texas (Austin 2017), advertising giant P&G took the stage and encouraged radio to focus on your "bread and butter," namely broadcast radio. "It's a gimme. You're selling water in the desert, you have what I want. How can you fail at selling me what I want?"

The reason this advice was necessary? John Fix from P&G recounted hour-long meetings with radio companies where for 50 minutes, "I will hear about everything you've never done but want to. I hear about podcasts you've never broadcast. I hear about targeting, and what I really want to talk about is how you can touch 93% of the United States."

Radio is a daily companion for employed consumers, who advertisers need to reach. Meanwhile, people who are out of the workforce don't listen to a lot of radio. They also don‘t have much disposable income to spend with advertisers.

As Procter & Gamble has ramped up its investment in radio, its stock price has followed suit and is trading at an all-time high. Not a bad testimonial for radio, especially for buyers and advertisers skeptical of radio's enduring strength and dominance in a digital world.

As the saying goes, it's harder to stay on top than it is to get there in the first place.

For radio to continue to grow and deliver strong ROI to advertisers, those of us working in the industry need to keep getting better.

In that regard, insights into athletic performance and what separates champions from the rest of the field are both interesting and informative.

Researchers have found that champions consistently have a unique reaction to challenges. They view obstacles in a positive light - as opportunities to grow - and overcome them thanks to a "never satisfied" attitude.

This runs in contrast to almost champions, who blame setbacks on external causes, become negative, and lose motivation.

Most notably, researchers have discovered that the best goal is also the simplest: Get better.

Champions are driven from within. Their primary concern is self-improvement. They hold themselves to high standards, but judge themselves against prior versions of themselves, not against others.

Almost champions on the other hand, focus on external benchmarks, like national rankings or how they compare to rivals.

The research also found that champions seek empowering, lasting mentors. Coaches that empower their athletes and take a longer-term perspective. This differs from the experience of almost champions, who recall their coaches as being focused on immediate results, "often seeming to drive the bus more than the performer." Not surprisingly, almost champions change coaches frequently whereas champions maintain long-term relationships.

These insights on what separates champions from others applies across radio: programming, sales, promotions, on-air, imaging, management, research, consultants, marketers, software providers, and on down the line.

Advertisers need people across radio to keep getting better and to continue delivering what they can't get on any other platform - maximum reach to an employed audience with money to spend.

2019 has proven to be an important year for radio and 2020 should be a bumper crop that sets the tone for a new decade as we focus on growing industry revenue to $20 billion by 2022.

We are grateful to work with talented and dedicated professionals across markets and formats as we together enhance radio's highly profitable business model and ensure an ongoing commitment to operating in the "public interest, convenience and necessity."

This letter is the latest installment in an annual series that started in 2016, written to coincide with Labor Day, radio's unofficial holiday, a claim made possible by the dominant percentage of listening that's delivered by employed persons across markets and formats. Earlier editions of the letter are available here: 2016, 2017, 2018.

On behalf of Catherine Jung, Doug Smith, Jen Clayborn, and everyone at DMR/Interactive, thank you for working to drive radio forward.


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