Media buyer urges to embrace culture change.

“Radio is at a critical moment in its history, on the verge of tremendous growth and poised for transformation.” Sound like feel-good hype from a radio CEO? It’s not, it’s a media buyer’s perspective, a very large buyer at that--Ford Motor Company. Mark Kaline, global media manager for the automaker, made the comments in a keynote address at the What’s The Frequency? New Rules For Radio forum Wednesday morning (March 15) in New York.

While upbeat about the future, Kaline said the medium could squander its opportunity if it doesn’t act quickly. Radio needs to embrace culture change, put consumers first – “don’t lose sight of the listener” when embracing new technologies -- and “get comfortable with being uncomfortable,” he said.

To that latter point, Kaline urged broadcasters to consider alliances it may have never dreamed of before. “Maybe you need to reach out to online, to mobile, even to satellite,” he suggested.

New and better ways of measuring audiences are at the top of the needs list for most advertisers, Kaline intimated. “Activate PPM. What are you waiting for?” he said. “Radio is snapping at the ants while the elephants are going by. The industry will never catch up if we don’t act now.”

Rather than wasting time waiting for the perfect measurement solution, radio needs to adopt an “80% and go strategy,” he added. “Enhancements can be made along the way.” Kaline said the right device is only part of the challenge. Good research techniques and MRC accreditation are equally important, he noted. Kaline also called electronic spot verification “a must” and said radio needs a better understanding of listener engagement in a multi-tasking environment.

Later, in a “More Than Spots” session, Fox Broadcasting senior VP of national media Kaye Bentley spoke to the power of radio. “Radio works,” she said. The company used radio to launch its new TV network 20 years ago, when the three established networks weren’t interested in working with them. “That’s where we went 20 years ago and that’s where we go today,” Bentley said. Fox spends ad dollars with virtually all forms of media but radio get’s the largest share of its budget. “I never executed a media plan that didn’t have radio in it,” she said.

The Advertising Club, AdWeek magazines and the Radio Advertising Bureau presented the New Rules For Radio forum.