From Hear 2.0: Radio is a Service, not a Product

A product is something you ship. It’s something with four well-defined corners.

A book is a product – even an e-book. Because that book has a defined shape, a beginning, and an end.

A movie is a product. It is a fixed thing. And even if it spawns sequels, they will be their own products.

While specific radio shows may be products, radio as a whole is not.

And the consequences for this re-think are profound.

Because while a product is comparatively fixed, a service varies according to the benefit – the value – that service provides to the consumer.

For example, while a newspaper is a product, the newspaper industry is a service. And that industry is fast recognizing that their service is thedelivery of news, not the delivery of newspapers. Focusing on the service rather than the product is their only hope for salvation.

The service called “radio” is about delivering value – entertainment and information – to consumers easily and cheaply no matter where they go. It is not strictly about delivering audio any more than newspapers are strictly about delivering print.

If I were a radio broadcaster I would be relentlessly focused right now on how to deliver that value and what value to deliver, even as the revenue models are still taking shape.

I would not make everything an extension of my existing radio station, since that presumes the “station model” is what consumers want – it isn’t. It’s the value they derive from the station or stations that they want – and they want that value to fit whatever medium they choose to receive it in.

For example, it’s appalling that local radio stations which build their reputations around news and service elements are so generally prehistoric in their ability to deliver those elements OFF-air to consumers wherever they are and wherever they go. A “news” station is in the “delivering relevant news” business, not in the “news radio” business.

All of this is why the future for radio is a future of several – not one – radio industries.

Different segments of the industry will envision a broader future and choose different pathways to growth – pathways that don’t fit the historic association with “radio.”

Those pathways will reshape and redefine those broadcast companies into media companies intensely focused on the needs of consumers.

So do you have a handle on your service?

Or are you delivering newspapers?

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