The 2019 NAB Radio Show has concluded, and what an opportunity it was for the Digital Media students of UNI. Chris Wichert, Estefania Ravasio Corrales, and Josh Michel attended the convention with Professor Paul Torre. Over the course of the trip we met with CEOs, on-air talent, advertisers, and a wide variety of vendors!
One of the best learning experiences of the trip came from the Mentor Matchup sessions. As BEA Student Scholars, we got to sit with CEOs and executives from various radio and media companies, and had the opportunity to pick their brains about the audio industry. Estefanía Ravasio Corrales was impressed with “everyone acknowledged that even though our generations may be decades apart, we need each other to continue dominating the audio industry…and everyone was so nice to us.” Networking with the leading minds in the audio industry, and absorbing their knowledge like a sponge, is an opportunity we were fortunate to have.
Another great insight on the audio industry came from Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of VaynerMedia. Vaynerchuk’s keynote at the Radio Show highlighted the fact that audience attention is the priority, not the method of distribution. Noting that “any company here who digs in their heels believing simply in traditional distribution over the Internet is going to lose,” Vaynerchuk emphasized that radio stations have to transition to putting their content onto the internet if they hope to keep the attention of their audience. It was interesting to see which executives were embracing the changes of the future, and which executives were cautious about overhauling their traditional business models.
The Gen Z panel was another unique look into the future of radio. The panel, comprised of six young radio professionals, had an interesting take on the future of radio. One common observation was that radio companies struggle to reach younger viewers. This is because young people want to be able to choose what they listen to, and to access that content on demand. Also, younger audiences have the ability to detect when companies are targeting their age group with marketing. “Kids today want to be authentic, they think of themselves as their own personal brand. And we can tell when people act like they know what we want, and we tend to reject that, because those people are on the outside looking in,” said Ana Castillejos, an on-air personality on The Kidd Kraddick Morning Show.
Another amazing opportunity from the NAB Radio Show was attending the National Radio Award luncheon. This year’s winner was Mary Quass, CEO of NRG Media, and a UNI Alum! Mary invited us to sit at her table, and couldn’t have been nicer, chatting with us until they welcomed her onstage! NRG Media operates 41 local radio stations throughout the Midwest, including in Cedar Rapids and Waterloo. Mary has been the CEO for 14 years, and has had experience in the audio industry for several decades. She is not intending on slowing down, as her passion for the industry still runs high today.
The 2019 NAB Radio Show gave us a unique view into the industry of radio and audio. Chris Wichert felt that, “while some of the companies claimed that radio is still a viable investment, voices like Gary Vaynerchuk stood up and said what we all know: the audio industry may be growing, but it is important that the industry focus on broadening its presence online rather than just through airwaves.” While the future of traditional radio may be uncertain, the future of the wider audio industry is bright. People are listening to audio content now more than ever. The most important aspect of the audio industry is not the platform on which content is distributed, but the reality that the audience is listening. As long as people have two ears, audio of the future is sure to be heard, loud and clear!
Special thanks to the Iowa Broadcasters Association and UNI Digital Media Leadership for making this amazing experience possible!
-Josh Michel, UNI Digital Media