The radio industry is not doing as badly as you might have heard. And my experience interning at Cedar Valley Broadcasting in Cedar Falls bore that out. I quickly learned that radio in general is still thriving in the commercial sector. Companies know that their ads will reach a customer base, and that radio is an effective avenue to deliver their message.
In recent history, radio giants in New York and California have filed for bankruptcy, or posted horrid profits. But this is not because radio is dying, but because those giants tried to change the way they market and how radio works. While moving towards a mobile market, like iHeartRadio did, is one of the obvious trends in radio, it is not the only way to make money in the market. My radio station met and exceeded their sales goals in the three months that I interned there.
Many people cite the trend towards online media and that radio is losing out to apps like Pandora or Spotify, but these companies are nothing new. People have been listening to alternative forms of audio over radio for decades. Since the inception of the vinyl record the radio market has been finding new alternative ways to reach people and deal with new forms of audio technology.
So, I will say it now, in my own opinion – and the opinion of the rest of the radio world–RADIO IS NOT DEAD, IT’S JUST CHANGING.
I spent my summer as the primary News Intern and during that time I learned a lot about sound editing, news writing, and broadcasting on a large spectrum network. Though most of my work was in news, I also offered my voice to several commercials and ad spots on all three of our stations. The main station I was broadcast on was AM 1650 The Fan, a sports station that carries national sports talk radio shows, with local and national news at the top and bottom of the hour. Though I wasn’t working as a hard hitting journalist, it was a good station for me to learn from my mistakes and understand what it means to tell a story.
When you are given strict guidelines for your stories you are forced to discover the meat of a story, and distill what people actually need to hear to understand a news event. I also learned just how little people respect or trust reporters. I was repeatedly sidelined by secretaries that promised to “pass my message along,” but then I would never hear from the person I wished to interview.
It is widely believed by public officials that reporters are only out to find the dirt and to spin stories against businesses and people. Even when there was no possible way to spin a story in a negative light, such as reporting on the cross-state bike race, RAGBRAI, I met with opposition in certain towns. I would only receive carefully written statements, that danced around definitive answers, and never truly answered my questions.
– Thomas Winkelman