As I’m teaching my students about the business side of the radio industry, I find they often misunderstand who the customer is in our model. It’s typically their experience as the consumer of media that the content is being produced is for them… and they’re partly right. The content is produced to get their attention and to keep them listening as long as possible. The reason for this is that are not the customer… they are the product. We sell their attention to advertisers who look to influence their decision making. This can sometimes come as a surprise to them, as they think of radio as selling commercial time… but the commercial time is useless without the attention of an audience.
Think of it this way…
Let’s say you’re trying to sell chipmunks to people who want to make chipmunk hats (they’re all the rage, these days). How are you going to catch enough of them? Are you going to run around in the forest with a net? I’d like to see you try that and see how many you can catch in a day. What if you could get them to come to you? Would it make sense to offer them something they want? Perhaps if you placed a plate on the forest floor full of nuts and you sit and wait… something that looks really delicious. Then… when they come scurrying up, now you can just drop your net and offer them to your hat maker.
In this scenario, if you didn’t follow… radio is the chipmunk catcher… advertisers are making the hats… music, contests, and announcing are the nuts… and you’re the chipmunk.