but not the secrecy
When we first learned of the secret "Future of Digital Radio" meeting at the Radio Show, our sources told us they'd been sworn to keep their participation secret. The goal, I was told, was to develop a sound digital strategy for these cutting-edge companies, to combine their resources to develop and launch a robust strategy that puts them at the forefront of the migration to digital, ensuring a strong future for radio content to be delivered in other platforms.
This consortium is smart. It allows these groups to pool their resources and compete against solutions being offered by bigger companies like Clear Channel and Cumulus Media.
But why the secrecy? Clearly these women and men want their privacy to discuss the future they are planning together. It’s understandable that they'd look for a competitive edge -- but to think they could keep something like this under wraps in the middle of a radio convention was probably not well considered.
My e-mail today has been buzzing with insulted parties asking why they were not invited, why they were not asked to present. Every person who's approached me this morning at the Radio Show has been talking about this story, revealed by our editor in chief, Ed Ryan.
This industry is ripe for change -- finally. All signs are that our strength remains our content, not any single form of distribution. Though this very morning RAB CEO Erica Farber reminded me that everyone she talks to listens to radio, including teens, it's my goal as publisher of this 20-year-old magazine to help us keep our competitive edge. Admitting that all industries change, and that listening devices are changing as well, is the first step to embracing our future. I'm thrilled these progressive thinkers who attended the secret meeting are addressing those issues.
This forum is smart, and it's critical that radio to address its inevitable future. Especially if what I wrote recently about the changes ahead comes true. Collaboration is smart, but wider collaboration is smarter. This needs to be an industry-wide initiative, a deep forum exploring where we must go and what we'll need to get there. Frankly, that’s the sole purpose of my annual Convergence conference -- attended each year by many of the leading thinkers who attended this secret meeting at the Radio Show. I encourage everyone to take this dialogue to the full industry at Convergence 2013, where we will be surrounded by the world’s leading digital minds.
Again, though I applaud the creation of a consortium in an age of collaboration, I feel a fully embraced collective industry initiative is critical. Jeff Smulyan tried something like it in 2000 with the Local Media Internet Venture, but it may have been premature, and the venture didn't end well. I hope we'll take the lessons from that visionary attempt and seek full-industry adoption. When it's time to determine the industry's future, we should all be invited to the table.