Stuart Hardy, Director of Executive Education gives us insight on the current radio climate and discuss the importance of creative leadership to this beloved industry.
Can you summarise the impact of advancing technology and subsequent changes in the radio industry in recent years?
We are entering a new Industrial Revolution powered by knowledge, where products and services are dominated by paradigm shifts in the way value is created and consumed. Radio is not immune to the impact of these technological forces. Clearly, there is a case for arguing the increasing obsolescence of terrestrial radio.
In his 2017 report, Larry Miller (NYU) states that “unless the industry is set to make peace with a long and inevitable decline, radio needs to invest in strong and compelling digital services.” And concludes, “if it does, radio can look forward to a robust future built on the strong foundation it already has in the marketplace leveraging the medium’s great reach, habitual listenership, local presence and brands. If it doesn’t, radio risks becoming a thing of the past, like the wax cylinder or 78 RPM record – fondly remembered but no longer relevant to an audience that has moved on.”
How has the industry responded, both positively and negatively?
The Radio industry is in turmoil – the demand from legacy audiences clashes with the increasing digital appetite of Generation Z. In most cases, there is a focus on innovation and transformation, aligned with effective legislation that promotes this innovation rather than restricts it. New business models are being explored to compete with encroaching content providers using streaming and other channels on new and exciting devices.
How important is creative leadership in disrupting the business models that impact the radio industry, and what skillsets should leaders adopt to put this into action?
Radio leaders must shrug off old mind-sets and develop a more hybrid approach to creating and capturing new sources of value. It’s a VUCA world out there (Volatile, Uncertain, Chaotic and Ambiguous) and this requires a more creative agile approach, where collaboration with a growing army of prosumers is paramount.
Cultures that foster innovation, risk-taking and the engagement of new tech-savvy talent should be encouraged. The time for ‘managers’ has gone – nowadays it has become an excuse for poor leadership. If Radio is to immerge, as it rightfully should, as a powerful medium for communication and multiple sources of value, then creative leadership is essential.