This will be a very interesting year for radio. Millions of people are being introduced to mobile audio streaming for the first time with the acquisition of a new smartphone or perhaps a tablet like the iPad or Samsung Galaxy.
Applications like TuneIn radio are providing unparalleled access to streaming radio stations, both terrestrial-based and pure play. Location-based services like Foursquare and Facebook Check-In are gaining in visibility, if not widespread usage.
Couple that with a more realistic outlook on the part of leaders in the business, optimism tempered with recent memories of almost-disaster.
Radio people in 2011 are beginning to realize that the message from years ago of people like Mark Ramsey is true - it's not 100% about the method of transmission, it's about the quality of the content and a focus on delivering it to as many devices as possible.
We are still on the left side of the consumer adoption slope for mobile streaming - but the slope is getting steeper and a year from now people will not remember not having access to all of the world's streaming audio, anywhere, anytime.
There is a fly in the ointment, and that is the possible future behavior of the ISPs and mobile service providers. Many of these companies have toll booths on both ends of the system - at the content creator's side and at the content listener's end. Some even have a tollbooth in the middle. If you want to get a great analysis of how this may go, check out Tim Wu's new book, The Master Switch. This is a must-read for anyone in a leadership role in the communications business.
How we tie in the world wide reach of our new content delivery platforms with the delivery of consumers to local business will be the radio story of 2011.