NewsTalk 1190 WOWO Radio in Fort Wayne, Indiana is going to be 100 years old soon.  Despite the most recent doomsday report that AM and FM radio stations would be obsolete before WOWO hits 100, I’m here to present some real reasons that the report is both right and wrong.

Broadcast radio is struggling to remain relevant as consumers embrace streaming platforms, according to a groundbreaking study that examines the disruption to radio caused by digital services.

These trends are crippling radio, which is witnessing historic declines in its audience and its relevance to listeners and advertisers. To survive, radio must innovate, learn from other media, and take control of its path forward into the third decade of this century and beyond.

That’s the intro to a 30 page report that says radio stations like the ones I work for are going the way of the phone book.  Here’s a direct link to the entire report if you want to really dig in.

A dozen years ago, I was making the same prediction. Music radio was going to be a thing of the past.  At the time I worked with legendary Fort Wayne WXKE Radio Icon Doc West and Doc knew the answer to the problem of music radio stations losing listeners to streaming services and satellite radio stations. Live and Locally Relevant. That was the mantra that Doc used to stay at the top of the heap of radio personalities back then.

WOWO radio used to be a music station when I was a kid and the most listened to radio personality before Doc West was Bob Sievers. His morning program on WOWO had 90% of the available audience tuned in.  Farmers for the farm reports, kids like me, waiting to hear the weather, well, actually the school closings and everyone else listened to Bob on WOWO to know what was going on.  Bob and WOWO were Live and Locally Relevant.

My reason for predicting the demise of AM & FM radio back then was the digital age as auto manufacturers were adding internet to their vehicles.  More options for drivers to listen to their favorite music.  I knew it would be an evolving change, simply because it would take time for these internet connected cars to replace the older vehicles.

Your Car, a “radio on wheels”

But then something else has kicked in that I didn’t foresee. The Internet of Things.

The IoT as it is called is the interconnection of stuff via the web that we didn’t need to have connected to the web previously.

The ability for your phone to respond to voice commands was a preview of what we have now with Alexa and the other digital personal assistant devices that are becoming common place.

But back to my headline for this story:

Why WOWO Radio Will Outlast The Naysayers

WOWO radio and our sister stations at Federated Media are embracing the digital age. They were the first in Fort Wayne to jump in and offer the radio programming to listeners on what ever digital platform the listeners wanted.  Then they went a step further and began producing content that goes beyond what you can get by listening to the AM & FM radio signals.  Podcasts, Videos, and plenty of on-demand content that you and I can read, watch or listen to when we want, where we want.

Listen to what you want, when you want

Our music stations, in Fort Wayne including WMEE, K-105 and 98.9 The Bear have been Live and Locally Relevant for decades!  WOWO Radio with our News and Talk format for the past 20 years has a couple of national talk shows in the middle of the day, but every 30 minutes, we have Live and Locally Relevant news updates.  Fort Wayne’s Morning News with Charly Butcher starts the weekday and afternoons with the Pat Miller Program, bookend each weekday with Live and Locally Relevant programming.

In case you still need another antidote as to the importance of local media, during tragic events like Hurricane Harvey, it was the local Texas radio stations that were the dominate source of information. Television isn’t portable but radio is.

But what about the radio audience overall?  Is it shrinking?

After the report from the naysayer, two more reports came out to counter his claims.  You can read them here and here.

But what I care about and so do the businesses I work with who use WOWO Radio to advertise by inviting our listeners to become their customers, is what is the state of radio listenership in Fort Wayne Indiana?

I researched it for this story.  I have access to the Eastlan radio surveys from 2013 thru today that measures radio listener habits every 6 months in Fort Wayne.

Between 2013 and 2017, the total number of people age 12 and older who listen to a radio station in Metro Fort Wayne has grown by 25,000.


Mic Drop.

396,000 weekly listeners in the spring of 2013.

421,000 weekly listeners in the spring of 2017.

How’s WOWO doing?  Every survey that I have access to (including before 2013) show that WOWO radio continues to lead the pack with over 100,000 listeners every week, and 98%+ are grown ups.

In about 8 or 9 years WOWO will be celebrating a century of service.  Now is the right time to join the other advertising partners who benefit from being on WOWO.  Contact me to find out how.