Radio's Quiet Game Changer That Could Crush Pandora

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- You're unlikely to hear much about this in the financial or tech media, but it's a big deal. Given the media's desire to create and perpetuate Pandora (P) "killers" that always fail to materialize, you would think they would pay attention to something that actually matters. But, as usual, they're not. The only place you'll hear about this is in the radio trades (that nobody outside of radio reads) and, now, in my column.

Entercom Communications (ETM) is a small company that owns broadcast radio stations. A few days ago, it introduced "The 2-Minute Promise" on what is already a pretty good alternative radio station in Seattle -- 107.7 The End, KNDD. It's a simple, but bold new initiative:

  • Cut the number of commercials played per hour in half;
  • Never play more than two minutes of commercials in a row;
  • Refocus on music discovery. Cut down on music repetition;
  • And, maybe most importantly, do not fire disc jockeys to fund the endeavor.

Shortly after the Seattle announcement, a privately owned Fresno radio station made a similar move. It will play no more than five minutes of commercials per hour, giving advertisers, as RadioInfo.com put it, "ownership of each break." Expect more stations to follow suit. Once Clear Channel and Cumulus Media (CMLS) follow suit, the game doesn't simply change, it breaks completely wide open. In traditional radio's favor. On its own terms.

A couple key points to consider.

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