Technology means traditional media needs to adapt

A couple months ago when I wrote about the CBC, I was writing — in part — about technology as well.

I’m not about to revisit the debate about our national broadcaster, but I am going to address how technology plays such a transformative part of how all media is consumed these days.

Last Friday I listened to a live, call-in radio show — on the internet exclusively — where the host was in a hotel room at New York’s Waldorf Astoria, and the phone screener, producer, and engineer were back at the show’s home studio in Burbank, Calif.

This was made possible by technology, and a lot of bandwidth.

The production was so phenomenal, it sounded like any other day when the host was in the studio, sitting or standing in front of the microphone, like he does five days a week.

I listened to the show on my phone via the tunein app.

I was waking up on Monday — still in bed  and on Facebook using my phone —when I saw Ian Tootil from SENSE BC was going to be a guest on Victoria’s AM 1070 CFAX in, like, 30 seconds.

Do you think I got up and ran to a radio and franticly attempted to dial in a signal?

No. I fired-up tunein again and was good-to-go for the 30 minute segment — just this side of instantly.

I’ve got two devices in my house that are capable of receiving radio signals, but they simply aren’t set up for that because I have no antenna and no TV cable either. If I want to listen to any traditional radio I use tunein and my phone, and then plug it in to my stereo with a 1/4” cable.

Tunein claims more than 50 million users, accessing more than 100,000 “real” radio stations, and more than four million podcast programs, and it’s just one of a number of similar mobile apps.

That’s what every traditional bricks-and-mortar broadcaster with a transmitter is up against.

The National Post reported Thursday morning the CBC’s new five-year strategic plan essentially inverts its priority structure from television/radio/on-line/mobile to mobile/on-line/radio/television.

The landscape of traditional media is changing, and how media is consumed is ever-evolving.

Traditional media is being forced to keep up and figure out a place in the market where each broadcaster can find a profitable, dedicated, audience and bring quality content to that group via the device they use to consume it.

It’s less “broad”casting, and more “focused” casting.

Technological innovation has made it easy for people with specific tastes — no matter how obscure those tastes may be — to access the content they want. If they aren’t already, they can be converted into ardent fans of a broadcaster if, and only if the quality of its product is top-notch.

The second it’s not top-notch, people will bail because there’s so much more out there.

Technology has blown the marketplace apart, and for the better.

It’s going to be up to all traditional broadcasters (music, talk, whatever) to grab those scattered pieces, harness the tech, and get back to work.

Jay Siska writes monthly in the News Leader Pictorial. Reach him at jaysiska@hotmail.com.

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