What Magazines Can Learn From Radio
A blueprint for survival.
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There was a time when all radio stations were the most technologically advanced form of media, back in the day when everyone sat on their front porch and listened to the baseball games and serial shows on their wooden consoles, sipping lemonade made with actual lemons.
And then it happened—this new thing came along and it was radio with a picture in it! Yep, television… and, can you imagine the radio announcers and advertisers, station owners and everyone else shaking in their boots when, after WWII everyone could afford to purchase their own TV? How exciting—and how terrifying all at the same time, what a change in the radio industry! Would radio even survive? Um does any of this sound familiar?
So, how did they do it? How did the radio stations survive the big shake up? The answer is simple—diversification, a dedication to their core strengths and slow deliberate growth toward new technology. A good example is CBS, one of the first radio stations to exist, bravely hurled its first broadcast out into the silent airwaves in 1927. It’s amazing, but as late as 1950, CBS only owned one television station and was still counting on radio for its bread and butter. However, by 1956 the radio stations were losing money, and TV stations were making it—certainly a clear sign for major change. Some radio shows were actually “transferred” from one medium to the other. Shows that still run today such as “60 Minutes” actually began on the radio. However most TV programming took what worked in radio and simply applied it to the new medium including big name stars, creative programming and of course, the advertisers. So, what about the CBS radio division? Focusing on what they do best, is what saved them; they still provide popular news programming today through their radio network.
There’s no doubt things move faster today than they used to, and it’s true, the printed magazines versus the internet revolution can be daunting. However, just like radio, we’re weathering an industry shake-up but certainly not a complete breakdown. The internet, social networking, online content, e-zines, e-newsletters, blogs, webcasts, webinars, online video all of it will make us stronger publishers. Will we be producing paper magazines 20 years from now? Probably not. Chances are that model won’t work any longer, but we will find a new niche and publishing will somehow remain the same at the core and yet be very different in practice.
And yes, some of us will cease to exist, and some of us will manage to evolve and grow.