It started when Al Mayers, the head of Bloomberg Radio, came to me and asked, “Whatever you do, can we do it on radio?” We sat down and tried to figure out what would interest listeners and – just as important – what wouldn’t. We worried about the mix of economics, finance and investment. We tested content, guests and hired a terrific team to make “Bloomberg on the Economy” and “Bloomberg Surveillance” work.
We ignored all things digital because, at the time, there was near zero digital in platforms and distribution.
But then digital exploded.
For me, it was the first e-mail from a fan in Vietnam. Then another email, this time from a gentleman stuck in traffic between Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
We learned by trial and too many errors. First, we tried the digital miracle that was podcasts and the profound impact of iTunes as a distribution system. Then Bloomberg.com. Today, we see the stunning success of the Bloomberg Radio+ mobile app. We had hopes and guesstimates of the international reach of streaming crystal-clear radio and archived interviews, but the results have been jaw-dropping.
All of this wrapped around a technology that is associated with… say, 1949.
Radio is an old technology; that brings many advantages. The biggest advantage is to be desperate enough to try any and all new technologies. And with radio simplicity, those tests can be made rapidly.
Friday, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of Bloomberg Radio. We also celebrate this strange melding of the old and the new. Radio: The New New Thing.
Tom Keene is an editor-at-large for Bloomberg News and host of “Bloomberg Surveillance”