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Media mogul Lew Dickey on radio’s advantage and challenge

Larry King NowOct 24 '16

Lew Dickey – who helped build Cumulus Media into the second largest radio broadcasting company in the U.S. – explains the unique advantage of radio over television, and how driverless cars will introduce a new challenge for the medium.


Larry King: What’s the position of radio today?

Lew Dickey: I talk about it in the book, right? It’s sort of, it’s a double edged sword. Radio, unlike most media, still controls its distribution. I talked about all distribution going IP. Radio is still principally an in car medium. And, there’s 260, you know, million cars and they all have radios in them. And so, it still controls that distribution. So that’s a positive. The negative is it’s ad supported. It’s 100% ad supported. There’s no subscription service to radio.

Larry King: Except…

Lew Dickey: Except Sirius XM which is a wonderful business. But, because of that broadcast radio is suffering, because the value of an ad impression is declining. And, as we know, all markets are supply and demand. And because of digital, with the phone now, there are, there’s a surplus, an over abundance of supply of ad units and ad impressions. And they’re all so smart ad impressions. So more supply than there is demand, and so the value of all advertisements go all the way down, and radio is 100% supported by advertising, so it’s a challenged model.

Larry King: What happens when we’re driverless cars, and you can then put a television in the car, and watch television while your car drives itself?

Lew Dickey: Well that’s a, that’s another challenge. And you’re absolutely right, at some point that’s gonna be here, whether it’s five years or ten years, it’s going to start to, in fifteen years you know, gain critical mass.

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