Since the July 1st launch of Radio Memphis, we have learned a great deal about the business that is Internet Radio. A lot of really good things have happened and thankfully, a very small bad thing has raised its ugly head. We have found ourselves deep in a world filled with choices. More choices than one might even consider at the outset. Certainly, when first I conceived the idea of this radio station, there were natural hurdles to overcome. That just comes with the territory. Namely, engaging a relatively new technology and making the connection with our listeners. Not a small task.
Sure, you could simply get a computer and some software, some generous server space and a little software. But, there was so much that went into its creation. Primarily, you need to know how a radio station should sound. The feel of the music, the transitions, the personalities involved and all the little trappings that go into this sort of endeavor. Thankfully, I was able to rely on several factors which would ultimately shape the overall final product. First, my experience in the business of radio. I'd been knocking about in this crazy circus of a field for 23 years. More than half of that time spent in Memphis. That's a good thing. If you were to put together a radio station for Memphis, it helps to know what the Memphis listener wants to hear, right? Filling the niche was actually rather easy.
The big box corporate radio machines created the niche. Trust me, I am very thankful for the inept individuals calling the shots on the corporate level. From my vantage point, it looks like they have managed to make FM radio rather irrelevant. Which can be a sad thing in the scheme of things. Massive operations which are designed to do one thing... make money. And they are not really good at that either. Sadly, the big radio corporations are not run by radio people. Lawyers and accountants rule the roost. Now, look what happened. They basically killed the industry off. It forced people like me to find other ways of taking it back. Using the available technology to do what we should have been doing years ago. Creating a relevant source of entertainment.
That's all part of the good stuff we have encountered along the way. Another great thing was surrounding myself with trusted allies who can help carry the load. Coming to the realization that as much as I wanted to do it all, I simply cannot. Arriving at that moment was a sort of a eureka moment for me and became rather refreshing. Being able to rely on great people like Leon Griffin who is Radio Memphis' Marketing Manager (and mentor) was the defining moment with us. Finding him in my foxhole during this time has certainly presented me with a feeling of not having to panic. Not to tell on Leon, but he's been in the business since 1969. He knows what works and what does not. That is priceless information as we begin to grow.
Part of the bad things we have had to encounter involved individuals and organizations who are largely afraid of the power we suddenly wield. One of the early concerns we all had was the perception that Radio Memphis would not be taken seriously. I think to a certain extent, we will never get fully past that stigma no matter what we accomplish. Despite this, Radio Memphis managed to legitimize itself by forming a partnership with the Mississippi RiverKings Hockey Club to carry some 41 of their games which includes their entire away schedule. But watch, there will be people who will still say, "Meh, it's still internet radio." Yeah, well, screw you. We're here and we ain't going away.
Internet radio has a funny stink to it. Not that that's a bad thing. Generally speaking, people are afraid of what they don't know about. In response to that theory, we have been pretty busy educating people on how to listen to us. It seems to be working since our numbers are reflecting that. Internet radio is a common thing on the east and west coasts. Our numbers reflect that fact as well. But the good thing is we are not the only ones doing it. There are countless internet radio stations around the globe. Most are, quite frankly, amateurish. There are some that sound quite well. Look for some of the internet stations in Europe as an example of this full spectrum of what internet radio has to offer. When you consider these other stations, Radio Memphis becomes a mere dot in the big picture. The nice thing about that, is we can be a significant dot with the right amount of work and some luck. As a quick aside here, if you are handy with a soldering iron, you can make a really cool desktop internet radio that can get as many stations as you want. Check out this cool article in Popular Science.
Then there are the naysayers we deal with. Check the comments of the next post down and you will see what I mean. There are those people out there who feel that we are cheating the Memphis musicians by not paying royalty money to the artists. To answer that little nagging issue, we merely point out the simple fact of net neutrality. Look it up. Internet radio stations do not ever have to pay royalty money to any collection agency. It is a busted system that benefits everyone BUT the musicians and the radio stations.
Far too often, there are those ill-informed individuals who think they know the laws and regulations regarding the broadcasting of music. When these people speak their mind, they do nothing but rile the tempers of the musicians who have submitted to Radio Memphis. They know they aren't having their music exposed for the radio stations to pay them. They know the money they make comes from the sale of their music and the sale of tickets to their events. It's just that simple.
We created Radio Memphis to be a way to take back the industry from the idiots who now control the radio industry. And it seems to be working.
These "media mastodons" (thanks Richard Alley) are reacting to internet radio with things like programs mimicking Pandora in that there is now more than one soulless way to deliver content. Bill Gates said it once, "Content is king." Boy, was he right. You would think, of all people, a big corporation would know this. But the reality is that neither do they know this nor do they give a shit.
The new thing in radio is a thing called "Denise". Denise is an artificial intelligence program that mimics a DJ. It reads the song titles in the play list and regurgitates lines to the audience that have been programmed into its system. What's more, it has the ability to change voices throughout the day to give the impression of there being a "different" jock on the air. What a sham... and a shame. Now these dinosaurs don't have to pay anyone to work at a radio station.
We live in a scary world. The new economy has redefined how business is to be done. To answer that, these massive corporations are resorting to dehumanizing the industry to further rape the business. For my answer, I simply refer the reader to Radio Memphis. It's where real radio is headed. In the next few years, don't expect satellite radio to survive and the traditional FM and AM broadcasts will be virtually unrecognizable. A smoldering heap of what was once a great medium. Thank God for the internet. It became the next frontier for people like us. Good and bad, this is going to be fun.