Friday, October 26, 2007

Don’t Touch That Dial

Broadcasters have long cast a wary eye toward the digital realm. Even with grudging acceptance that ‘the world is going digital’ the unease is endemic. And the answers from consumers only reinforce every digital fear.

Programming side broadcasters tend to be rather more right-brained than the left-brained engineers and accountants. Programmers talk about concepts; engineers talk about boxes. Broadcasting needs both sides of the brain, certainly, but visualizing consumer behavior remains the domain of programmers.

Something about digital radio has bothered broadcastings’ concept side, something not well articulated.

American broadcaster Cox Radio commissioned veteran audience researcher Bob Harper to find out how radio listeners may or may not use the new digital radio platforms. In a series of focus groups conducted in three US cities two years ago Harper sorted out a quite different layer of digital questions. The results were summed up nicely by one study participant - “Why don’t they just leave it alone?”