The NAB Radio Show held the week before last, in conjunction with the Radio and Records Convention, was notable in its attention to new media. It’s been years since the NAB has devoted so much time to new media issues (remember the Streaming at NAB sessions that were held at the radio show early in the decade?).  And the new media sessions have perhaps never been as central to the Convention. Sessions on streaming, podcasting, downloads, blogging and just generally dealing with the media competition abounded at the convention.

The emphasis on the new media was perhaps most evident and presented most starkly in a pre-convention Summit put on by Jacobs Media. There, one presenter, Gordon Borrell of Borrell Associates, Inc., talked about the reach of media and information on the Internet, and just how prevalent it has become – even in reaching fighting for local advertising dollars – perhaps the one place that over-the-air broadcasters thought was most securely their own. Mr. Borrell pointed to websites such as those run by the Cape May Herald and the Lawrence County Kansas Journal-World as ones which show the power of the Internet to contribute to or eclipse their traditional sponsoring media (he said that the Lawrence site did over a million dollars a year in on-line revenue),. Even sites with no traditional media  partner, like, were said to be generating hundreds of thousands of dollars in local advertising revenue. What was perhaps most surprising was his assertion that in 40% of markets, there is an on-line site that has greater advertising revenue that the most successful radio station in the market.

Another presenter, Jason Calacanis, CEO of Weblogs,  went so far as to suggest that the principal purpose of today’s radio station should be using the station to drive traffic to the station’s website before the station itself became obsolete. Videos of the Jacobs Media Summit are available on-line, here.  While many others found this view to be extreme (Jack Isquith of AOL Music, in a session on streaming held several days later, talked at one point of the “elegance” of radio’s ability to reach local mass audiences more efficiently than on-line media), the whole convention seemed to be in agreement that radio needs to concentrate on the new media and develop their web presence. 

What is notable about these sites is that, even the ones sponsored by print publications, all feature audio and video material.  As we’ve written before, as the competitive media are invading the broadcasters turf, the broadcaster should be fighting back to maintain its local advertising position. Broadcasters need to be looking at their options to maintain their competitive position into the future.