Why podcasting won't kill traditional radio

I can’t believe we’re even having this discussion.

Radio didn’t kill books.

The cinema didn’t kill radio.

TV didn’t kill cinema. Neither did the VHS, nor the DVD. Nor has TiVo, and it doesn’t seem likely that it will, either.

The internet hasn’t killed newspapers; it hasn’t killed the printing press; it hasn’t killed brick-and-mortar stores.

Sure, each of these innovations changed the way we thought about the technology that had come before – the older technology wasn’t the latest new whizz-bang thing any more. Sure, each of these innovations changed the way people used the older media. Sure, some business models were destroyed by each of these innovations, and some businesses went under, or got drastically reduced.

But: books are still published. Cinemas still flourish. People still listen to the radio. People still shop in real stores.

Why then do people like Adam Curry think that podcasting is going to kill radio?

Aside from historical precedent, there are a few other reasons why I don’t think podcasting will kill radio (although it’s certainly going to *change* radio; and in the process, business models may fail, companies may fail; but that’s different from killing radio):

* Live call-in shows aren’t possible on a podcast. Live call-in shows can be recorded and podcast, sure – I’ve heard some great such shows (Science Friday from NPR is one great example) – but you still need some other medium in order to conduct your live show while you’re recording it and taking calls.

* In fact, live shows of *any* kind aren’t possible on a podcast. “Almost live”, sure; assuming you do no postproduction, and have a fast enough net connection to stream the audio to your server as you’re recording, I could be downloading minutes after you’ve finished recording, and listening minutes later. However, nothing can change the fact that it is later.

* Broadcast radio is local. That’s not to say that you can’t do a great local podcast – check the Philly Feed for the best example I’ve seen. Broadcast radio’s localness becomes especially important for live shows of all kinds – whether it be a live call-in discussion on community events, local up-to-the-minute news, local live traffic reports for commuters, breaking news on current weather conditions, live coverage from a sporting or cultural event – there’s no way podcasting can deliver any of this.

Radio isn’t dead, and it’s not going to die. Radio is unhealthy, and is going to have to adapt to cope with new innovation – but it’s not dead, not by a long shot.

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