Beijing, november 2009. Tien An Men square. Traffic is dense, but I’m cool : I’m listening to NRJ, number 1 music radio in France.
Yes, you read it well : in a car in Beijing, China, I’m listening to a French radio. No, NRJ didn’t invest one euro in Asia. I’m just – like most of you nowadays – listening to a radio on my iPhone, through 3G, plugged on the car stereo system. So, in Beijing, I actually have a cleaner sound than most of the listeners at the same moment listening on FM in their cars in Paris.
When very serious guys meet and fight in Paris about Digital Radio, that topic is not an issue for real people anymore, and for a long time already. This year, people will get wi-fi radios as Christmas presents. So, wake up guys, nobody cares about your fights about technical standards, neither about your plans, ideas, budgets and solutions. Radio listeners didn’t wait for you. Radio is online, and through 3G and soon 4G, it’s also – as it has always been – “over the air”.
If radio remains a vertical product – sending content to passive people listening, without any action back – it’s been a long time that those listeners took control on the way they agree to listen to this media. While I never believed on huge numbers for computer listenership, I strongly believe on future huge numbers for mobile over-the-air audience. Why ? Because mobility is in radio’s essence.Â In the 1930’s, yes, people were gathering around the giant wooden radio receiver, but TV soon took that place in the living room, and the invention of the transistor allowed radio receivers to become small, working on batteries – or on a lemon :-) – thus becoming the first ever mobile sound unit in people’s life.
What is “digital radio” supposed to bring us ? Better sound. Online radio has that already, thanks. Associated data. Online radio has that already, thanks.
On the other hand, UK – where DAB is so important already – shows us the limit of that technology. Don’t hope to listen to a proper DAB radio signal during heavy rains. In UK ? Heavy rains ? Duuuuhhhh.
So… listeners decide on how they want to listen to radio. Living-room wifi radio “tuners” are now cheap, and everyone can start his own radio station for a few bucks.
Finally, radio belongs to you, and has never been in such a good health !