The birth of radio happened over a century ago. However with the advent of the car and personal listening devices, talk radio began to flourish. Today, radio is going through yet another transformation.

TechRepublic’s Dan Patterson met with Talkers Magazine’s publisher Michael Harrison to discuss the evolution of talk radio, and how technology is shaping its future.

“There is no one thing called talk radio anymore,” Harrison said. Because talk radio has such a major presence in the radio world, Talkers Magazine has evolved into a talk media publication that covers all type of radio.

In 2017, we have to look at this medium as a state of mind, he said, rather than a literal box that sits on the table–especially since most people listen to radio online or through a podcast. “On-demand is the element that has really changed everything,” he added.

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Most radio shows are still monetized by advertising, but advertising is no longer the only way for these shows to make money. Most stations supplement their advertising by selling products directly to their audience, through their own product lines. However, to be successful doing so, stations must have a critical mass of listeners, and those listeners must be loyal, he said.

“The digital age has made it difficult for all media that sells advertising to evolve into the new business model,” Harrison said. “It’s much more difficult to sell advertising for the same amount of money.”

“We haven’t really come up with a way yet to comfortably embed advertsting into the digital space,” he added. “It’s very obtrusive. It’s annoying.”

These advertising issues combined with economic issues the radio industry has faced over the years have made it difficult for radio to transform into a successful 21st century business.

For radio shows to be successful in today’s digital age, they must target an audience that is underserved and passionate about a particular topic, and then gain credibility with them, he said. All of the content must be pertinent, good, and credible for people to believe in it.

The good news for people looking to get into the radio business is that it’s easier than ever to get your foot in the door with the technology that is available today. However, the bad news is that it’s much more difficult to fight through the noise to make your voice heard. “For just engaging an audience, the bar has never been higher,” Harrison said.

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