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Your Choice


Jim Carnegie's Radio Business Report had an item this week about a radio station, 100.5 Max-FM (WXMM-FM) Norfolk-VA Beach, that "is the first radio station in the world to actually allow listeners total control to program the music. This new concept will allow each listener to select from thousands of 'rock titles,' and program the music" -- no doubt on the station's Webcast.

The same week, the New York Times ran a story titled "ABC News Likely to Reshape 'World News' Webcast." The Times article quoted ABC News president David Westin, who indicated that "the network was considering ways to reinvent the broadcast, including a series of updates throughout the day." However, the most telling part of the story were two paragraphs:

The troubles with "World News" highlight a larger struggle across the broadcast landscape to deliver news on the Web. The broadcast networks' news divisions haven't been able to convince many viewers or advertisers to move with them online, in part because their TV audience is older.

And further on in the story:

Network executives and media buyers say that broadcast news suffers online when it is based on the old news model of a strong and authoritative anchor, like Mr. Gibson, escorting viewers through the day's news. Online news consumers want to click around, reading and watching only the stories that interest them.

It is amazing that it has taken radio and TV executives this long to pull their collective heads out of the sand and finally understand that new media is different from old media. It must have been hard for them when they realized that the old push (broadcast) model was what people were tired of. Listeners and viewers didn't like the choices that out-of-touch, arrogant programmers and editors made; they wanted to choose their own music and news -- songs and stories that were relevant and of interest to them.

Steve Jobs understood this principle when Apple introduced the iPod, which gave people choices. Young people now prefer their personally programmed iPods to terrestrial and satellite radio and opt for Web sites that give them choices, such as The Huffington Post, for their news.

The push model of radio and television has given way to the pull model of the Web. It's now your choice, not their choice. But therein lays both a problem and an opportunity. The opportunity is for all of us to be better informed and better educated according to our own interests and tastes. The problem is that we have not been trained well to make these choices and to look for a wide variety of information.

We've been lulled into laziness by corporate lowest-common-denominator radio program directors, arrogant elitist newspaper editors, and celebrity-obsessed TV newspeople too long. With the freedom of choice comes the responsibility of making informed choices -- a responsibility we all need to accept. We need to educate ourselves thoroughly on the choices available. So start surfing the Web. It's your choice.