RAB Insights

RAB Research Archive

Stop Calling It Terrestrial Radio

This week in Nashville, TN, RAB presented the Rising Through the Ranks program for 24 amazing female professionals. More on that in the coming tips. I learned a valuable lesson from Erica Farber, our President and CEO. When discussing all the different audio options, I used the term "terrestrial" radio to differentiate our AM/FM stations from all the other audio options. Erica rightly called me out and shared with the group:


She explained the origin of the term. When Sirius and XM began as satellite companies, they were largely staffed by former broadcast radio people. As a classic branding strategy to differentiate their products from broadcast radio, they started using the term satellite radio and began rebranding us as terrestrial radio. Erica asked, "Why did we let them define our brand? Worse, we started calling it terrestrial ourselves and gave into their branding strategy. We let them define who we are, and we need to stop."

We are radio. They are satellite. We are in the radio business; they are in the satellite business. We need to retake the ownership of brand radio. We are the original social medium; we are connected with communities, and we are engaged with our audience. We help local businesses grow and expand. We are radio. They are satellite.

Radio used to be a device that was in your car or a box that sat on a shelf. Radio has grown and expanded its content distribution across platforms to include streaming and app-based listening opportunities. Radio is no longer a single device - it's the content we provide.

McDonald's would never let Burger King define who they are, so why have we let others define who we are? Radio is our platform; it's our content, it’s our delivery. We are radio. Be proud and be loud and call it what it is — RADIO.

Jeff Schmidt, RAB