The KNEW/Savage development is just one dot along the path. It’s becoming clearer and clearer where radio is headed. 3G and 4G wireless are going to change all the rules, not just for radio. Here is what I see in the future:
– Today’s syndicated programming is going to migrate to direct to consumer via wireless streaming and podcasting. As more and more people catch on to the power of internet streaming over wireless, the attractiveness of programming “local” radio stations using syndicated programming fades away
– Sirius /XM will drop satellite from their brand. The niche of Sirius/XM is to be an aggregator of programming with a nationwide audience. How the signal gets to you is not important. As the quality and capacity of wireless internet improves, the infrastructure costs and quality problems with satellite delivery will push Sirius/XM more toward non-satellite delivery
– iheartradio is Clear Channel’s attempt to compete with Sirius/XM in the same role as programming aggregator. Clear Channel has been signaling for some time that they view programming as their business, not running radio stations
– AM is really going to go away this time. AM may live on as a vehicle for niche audiences like non-English programming and religious programming, but the migration of news/talk to FM is going to pick up speed. Once you listen to radio on the internet, you won’t tolerate the noisy erratic quality of AM signals, especially at night
– WiMax isn’t necessary. Even 3G networks have no problem maintaining a stream in a car at highway speeds. While WiMax may become the world standard, AT&T and Verizon will make LTE the defacto US standard for 4g. Sprint is missing some of the key things necessary to make Clearwire a success.
– Radio will return to being “local” if it is to have a future at all. With the nationalization of brands (Office Depot, Wal*Mart, Lowe’s, Friday’s), it’s a question if there is enough local business to generate the revenue to support local radio. Small operators not burdened by large amounts of debt will be the most successful.