Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Now Flourishing on the Web: Old-Timey Radio

The Web allows you to legally order up just about anything you want to hear, for free. So who on earth wants to listen to conventional radio stations on the Internet?

I do, actually. I’m a big fan of The Current, the alternative but not-too abrasive (I’m old) public radio station that broadcasts out of Minnesota, but apparently has lots of listeners in Brooklyn. And we’re not the only ones listening to old-school radio on the Web. CBS Radio’s (CBS) network, which consists primarily of news-and-talk outlets, is seeing big increases in online listeners. Mediapost:

CBS Radio’s network of radio station Web sites saw its total number of unique visitors increase 30% in December 2008, compared to the same month in 2007, according to Web analytics service, reaching an all-time high for CBS Radio. The online measurement company also noted that unique visitors grew 7% between November and December 2008.

Among the biggest growth stations were KRLD-Dallas, which jumped 133% between December 2007 and 2008; KNX-Los Angeles, up 113%; and WBBM-Chicago, up 104%. Major increases were also seen at WCBS-FM-New York and WPGC-Washington.”

So there’s a rare bit of good news for the radio business, which is losing listeners and ad dollars, courtesy of competition from devices like Apple’s (AAPL) iPod and iPhone. And that’s also good for enterprising companies like Targetspot, a New York-based start-up that’s dedicated to online radio advertising.

There’s still not a whole lot of money in online radio ads–the entire “off air” ad category, of which the Web is only a subset, makes up about nine percent of the radio ad market. And like the other media industries being pummeled by digital, its unlikely that the new online markets will make up for the decline in their existing businesses–that’s the now cliché-but-true “analog dollars to digital pennies” adage. But better to have pennies than nothing at all.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work