Celebrating Innovation at the 2013 DASH CONFERENCE in Detroit

November 4, 2013

Peter Smyth

I was honored when Fred Jacobs and Eric Rhoads recently invited me to share my thoughts about innovation at the 2013 DASH Conference in Detroit.

By definition, the word innovation means to “introduce something new”.

The Late Steve Jobs once said “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”

The automakers have done an outstanding job transforming both their organizations and their finished products in dramatic and global fashion.

Today’s cars are marvels of technology, safety and style.

Radio has been in a “partnership of innovation” with car makers since the first radio appeared in a 1922 Chevy. Over the past decade, as both of our industries have adapted to the digital revolution, radio has expanded and deepened its relationship with our listeners.

The adoption of HD Radio has given local stations a digital presence in the evolving dashboard and provides a platform that both industries can embrace for joint innovation.

The bandwidth, that provides higher quality audio as well as “now playing” information, can also be exploited for traffic information, point of interest readouts, as well as location-based advertising.

Other internet-based extensions of our brands are rapidly gaining traction.

On-line listening to local radio stations has increased dramatically over the past twenty-four months. Our company’s online listening has jumped almost 300% over that time.

We recognize that our digital presence is also used by listeners to stay in touch with the station.

On demand audio and time-shifted listening online are emerging as innovations that will add to radio’s digital offerings in the connected car.

We are also focusing on creating additional value on our digital platforms with original audio…. video and text-based information…. and entertainment.

As we innovate in this segment, we are looking for new and exciting ways to make this content available on the dash.

While smartphone-based digital is rapidly gaining traction, we want to join forces with the automotive community to create a seamless, safe and expanded in-car experience that is easy-to-use, exceeds drivers’ expectations and builds on the rich history of audio entertainment and companionship behind the wheel.

This conference proves that all forms of radio and the automotive industry are ready to meet this challenge.

But we will need much more than a single conference.

We need on-going collaboration to create both the common infrastructure and the compelling and original content that it will take to exceed user expectations.

I propose that we create a working group to build on this conference and deepen the relationship, isolate the challenges, and advocate for common solutions.

As partners, we are far more powerful and compelling than we are as individual operators.

Why not share with one another what our individual experiences with consumers have taught us?

A working group with representation from all parties could help clarify and prioritize an agenda that would “turbocharge” our collective progress.

We know from past experience with our local websites and station-branded mobile apps… that loyal listeners want …….no……..demand – access to their favorite brands whenever and however they want to access them.

Radio has always been the most nimble of the “traditional” media.

Our industry has embraced our online and interactive capabilities ….. is exploring a variety of different approaches…. and is experimenting in many different segments of the interactive world.

I believe it is important that as an industry, that we continue to embrace, explore and engage innovation on every level of our business.

I recently heard a great quote ….“You can’t create the future by clinging to the past.”

I encourage all of you to continue to challenge the status quo…..and to innovate, inspire and ignite change….YOU are the FUTURE.