Thursday, April 16, 2009

FM + iPod, Part 2: It's not just me.

I've already expressed my opinion about the NAB's request to Apple that they start putting FM tuners into iPods. Mark Ramsey, in a recent Hear 2.0 post approached it from another direction by asking an important question:

Does society need radio?

The answer, quite clearly, is "no."

Society doesn't need radio, society needs what radio provides.

Can't argue with that. Ramsey then outlines what that means.

Society needs the comfort of our favorite songs. We need the real-time connection to our community (however we define "community"). We need to know what to wear today and whether or not school is canceled. We need to stay up to date or to revel in our past. We need to be outraged and informed and soothed and amused. We need to be told what to do in a crisis. We need to know what's on sale and where. And we need these things wherever we are - at home, at work, in the car, and on our hip.
OK, here's the problem. What can you do with an iPhone or an iPod touch with a Wi-Fi connection?

1) Listen to your favorite songs.
2) Have real-time connection with our community through Facebook, Myspace, Twitter (et al) widgets
3) Get weather updates.
4) Be outraged, informed, soothed and amused (through YouTube, news feeds, blog RSS feeds, etc.).

Not so sure about the crisis and sales, but you see the point. If these devices deliver these services already, what purpose is there in adding an FM tuner?

Ramsey concludes:
As an industry, radio needs to recognize that its social currency is in what it provides, not in the manner it provides it.
If radio moved into online media, then adding FM tuners to iPods and iPhones becomes irrelevant. Because then stations would have their content right where iPod and iPhone users expect to find it -- on the Internet. But I didn't hear the NAB talk much about that...

- Ralph

Day 11 of the WJMA Podwatch.

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