10 years ago, Steve Jobs unveiled Apple’s latest invention.   He said it would change everything.  He was right. Everything.

Whenever I bump into someone I haven’t seen in a while, they always ask “How’s the radio business?”   These days, I don’t know where to start because, frankly, there is no radio business, at least not the one that I started in.   There is no newspaper business, or magazine business. There’s not really any TV business either.   Media, or the thing we use to get and send information, has become another thing.  Not a bad thing.  Just not the same thing.  Instead of accessing different media in different ways, most of us now access all media ONE way….and, it’s all happened in less than one decade.

IBM 8086

In 1989 when I started at WBCK, the station van had a built-in cell phone.   It was the first one I’d ever used!  The station had one computer.   It was an IBM 8086, this one, in fact.




Tom McHale typed all of his news on this Royal typewriter.  We still have it to remind us of Tom’s commitment to accurate local news....and in case of a power failure.

Tom McHale's Royal Typewriter

All of our music and commercials were on a sort of 8-track tape that we called cart tapes.

Cart Tapes from the 80's and 90's







The work day for a radio DJ was pretty simple:  Play some songs, do an on-air interview or two, record a couple of commercials and go home.   I think that’s how some people still think of radio.  It sure has changed!

Over the next 15 years or so, we all got our own cell phones, and all of the station music and commercials were on computer hard drives.   We had those noisy dot-matrix/ribbon printers and big ol’ tube monitors everywhere.  The government allowed companies to own many radio stations and they all became linked in the same wide area network (WAN).

Ten short years ago, I had a Nextel Flip-phone on one hip, and a palm pilot on the other.  I looked like some kind of new millennium gun slinger, and could barely walk through a doorway without one of them getting knocked off my belt and onto the floor.   I kept saying, “When is somebody going to invent a gizmo that does all of this on one device that fits in your pocket?”   Well, they did.

On January 9, 2007,  Steve Jobs unveiled Apple’s latest invention.   He said it would change everything.  He was right. Everything.  On June 29, 2007, the first iPhones were sold for $600 each.

Ten years ago, it was common for us to be using all of these media recourses and gadgets:

  • Tube TV with VCR
  • Table Top AM-FM Radio, with Alarm Clock
  • iPod or mp3 player, or maybe CD Walkman.
  • Palm Pilot, or PDA (personal digital assistant)
  • Cell phone
  • Laptop computer
  • Daily planner and calendar
  • Newspaper
  • Magazine
  • Kodak Camera or maybe digital camera
  • Dictionary, Thesaurus or Encyclopedia
  • Micro cassette recorder
  • Maps
Media pic

Now all of that and more has been replaced by one thing.

  • Smart phone.
iphone pic

And as a result, media outlets have had to learn to adapt to use many platforms.   Radio, newspaper, magazines and television all have to exist on line and also need focus more than ever on the local communities they serve.   We have a radio signal the same as always, but we also broadcast on the internet to your desktop computer and smartphone.  We still do the news on the radio, but also on-line.  We help clients with their radio message, but also to get their message out on those other platforms too.

Staffs at almost all media outlets have decreased dramatically, while the workload has tripled or quadrupled.   The amount of information we deal with on a daily basis is incredible.  But that’s now true of everybody…..well, everybody with a smartphone.

Here are some other things that I think are being rendered obsolete by the smartphone:

  • Wristwatch
  • Metronome
  • Tuner
  • Carpenter’s level
  • Compass
  • Flashlight
  • Sketchpad
  • Stopwatch
  • Alarm Clock
  • Calculator
  • Gameboy/Atari
  • Home telephone
  • Answering machine
  • VCR
  • Walkie Talkie

I bet you have a few to add.












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