I can't remember what started me on this journey, but for the past couple of days I've been pondering how good old radio is faring these days. It's been under something of an onslaught from above and below.
The satellite radio companies Siruis and XM Radio have been online for a while now and podcasting is growing by leaps and bounds. The question is: is there room for all of us?
The answer, I think, is a solid "yes".
I'm not sure how XM Satellite Radio Holdings, Inc. () is doing, but Sirius Satellite Radio, Inc. () has posted some pretty staggering losses so far this year. XM's stock prices are a lot more stable than Sirius, but I'm still suspect.
Every week or so there seems to be another post somewhere about how radio listenership is dropping. I sense that's probably true, but I'm not all that sure that it's at the expense of the alternatives.
Consider the pros of each:
Satellite Radio: Like stalllite TV, there are a TON of channels to choose from. In addition, a satellite footprint is a lot bigger than the transmission range of a terrestrial radio tower. Ergo, if you find a station you like, you can listen to it pretty much all the way across country.
Terrestrial Radio: Local news and local content. If I need to know what the traffic or weather is for my town, I'm listening to radio as I drive to work.
Podcasting: A wide topic range like satellite radio and I can listen to it when I want or as many times as I want.
Without just reversing the points above, the cons look something like this:
Satellite: No local content.
Radio: Limited stations (how many stations can you get in your town?) and limited range.
Podcasting: No timely content and limited local content.
Based on these observations, I genuinely believe that there is room for all of us. Listeners looking for local or timely content will make use of radio. Those looking for wider content or the ability to listen outside of normal range (hello, long haul truckers) will turn to satellite. Ditto with podcasters.
In short, that's what terrestrial radio brings to the table and will continue to bring for the foreseeable future. The home front.