While thinking about 2011 predictions for radio and related industries, I looked back at my predictions from two years ago.  Heading into 2009, I suggested numerous changes that were on the verge of occurring.  Going into 2011, it’s interesting to note the predictions that came true and those that still may occur next year. 

 

Here are my 2011 predictions in order of their likelihood of occurring:

 

True in 2009…and even more so for 2011—

Talent prices will escalate for the few, and will fall for the majority: 

The gap between “super talent” salaries and all other talent is wider than ever

 

News, talk, sports and business formats will grow:

Crystal Ball

Is there a friendlier format for group owners?

 

Conservative talk will grow:

As predicted, with Democrats in office conservative talk continues to grow

 

At least one major radio group, and several smaller ones, will go belly-up: 

The vultures are circling Citadel, and other groups will fall if they can’t pay their big notes due in 2011

 

Several radio groups, big and small, will merge: 

Citadel + Cumulus = Clear Channel 2

 

Station trading will become popular again:

Recent trading activity will increase

 

At least one of the radio trade publications will fold:

Are there any left?

 

True in 2009…but reversed for 2011—

Advertising spending will stall or fall: 

Back on the up-tick…thanks mainly to online revenue that now surpasses radio and newspapers

 

Radio’s new media focus will decline:

New media is coming to radio more than radio embracing new media, but the net effect is growth in digital platforms.  Meanwhile, Pandora is becoming Kleenex for “internet radio”

 

Arbitron will see its radio ratings monopoly challenged:

Nielsen we hardly knew ye.

 

Baby steps in 2009…and still in 2011—

Two distinct radio group tracks will emerge:

For those stations and formats with no hope of success in the PPM world (how many huge cume mainstream stations can there be in a market?), financial restraints will encourage some owners to finally drop Arbitron and rely on results-based and multiplatform-packaged advertising models

 

A new radio “operator” will emerge:

Everyone should follow Galaxy Communications’ model that includes a heavy dose of its revenue (20%) from live events.  Alpha Broadcasting and TownSquare Media are trying new models, and others will experiment as well. 

 

Newspapers will re-emerge as a competitive force:

Don’t count out print yet, especially on a digital and multiplatform engagement level

 

Wrong in 2009 and won’t happen in 2011—

New programming concepts will emerge, and will be copied: 

PPM has pushed programming creativity backwards

 

Sirius XM will enter bankruptcy: 

Mel being Mel

 

The “Big 4” record labels will become the “Big 3”: 

Not likely

 

They say a rising tide (economy) lifts all boats (radio) in the harbor.  Here’s hoping the rising waters continue in 2011!