History always repeats. No question about that.
First media form to grow big was the newspaper. Chains emerged. Profits soared. The most powerful force in any community was the newspaper. Think about it, every major comic strip from SuperMan, to the Green Hornet to Spiderman had the newspaper as a center piece of the story line.
Perry White, Clark Kent, Lois Lane. Brett Reed. Peter Parker. J. Jonah Jamison.
They were the characters that were the stars of the strips, and later the TV series' and eventually the movies in the case of Superman and Spiderman. The newspaper publisher, editor, reporter and photographer were the king.
City halls created "press rooms." Public Information Officer positions in city government and within agencies were plum assignments, as the access to the media from those jobs was unduplicated. The print reporters deadlines were what set the stage for the news. They made the agenda and set the stage for everything the public knew.
Radio started big time in the late 1920s, but it was really in the 30's and 40s that it took off and through the 90s was responsible for profits as record growth, more people in cars, FM carry static free since the 70s and of course the concept of the format. Radio was never hurt by TV, not the way the printed word was hurt by the Internet, as it was very hard to take TV with you, so radio was the portable "media" of choice for those on the go.
But just as print is for the most part dead, so too is radio as we knew it. Put bluntly, mass media is a thing of the past. All hail personal media.
This seismic shift that occurred is and will be borne as a result of the Internet arrival and from the start some in radio thought they could control the net. They didn't and they can't, so while print was suffering the radio groups made a killing, consolidation, market saturation and domination by a few very well funded groups. But radio has killed off the concept of the music station. It's all corporate programming, without any personality. Sure the best music in radio is over satellite for the masses, but the arrival of the Internet and now it's explosive growth fueled by broadband and cheap 3G access means that personal music is the next horizon.
The media companies that catch on and realize that the radio airwaves were the broadband pipe of the 20th century and embrace the personalization model of content delivery will be the winners.
Radio may be around, but just like the newspaper conglomerates, the large broadcasting consortiums will either embrace a new model, sell off or become the dinosaurs of the 21st century.
Update--> TechCrunch refers to a Pew Research Center report that the net is more popular as a source for news than newspapers. DUH. But the world is moving away from text to audio, and yes Gracie, Video. Think about it. The keyboard on the iPhone is nothing great. The new Verizon Storm, made by RIM, is hardly a touch typists dream come true, and even the Android, despite its more Blackberry like tactile keyboard is only passable for typing.
No, we're moving towards a new form of radio, where the on air talent moves past the folks who write, and where the media moguls control networks not tabloids.
You see, history always repeats.
Update # 2--> Now I read that the NY Times is going to exit their investment in the Boston Red Sox and sell off some other non-core assets. SMART. They still have some of the best reporting and are likely going to gear up for even more media consolidation.