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Radio Nowhere

Some sneaky NAB operative snuck into my room at the Las Vegas Hilton and slipped a table-tent card onto my nightstand that said "Radio Heard Here", a new pro-radio campaign from the National Association of Broadcasters ("Wherever we have been inspired, informed, comforted and cheered, radio is heard here," the campaign coos.). Surely by design, the snoop had stuck the card right next to the room’s clock radio. 

Only problem was, that black plastic thing with the plug coming out of it wasn’t a radio at all. In fact, it was everything but a radio–it made forest sounds, ocean noises, and other soporific audio, and even sported a docking station for the ultimate radio nemesis, the iPod. 

The incident crystallized the NAB’s challenge in making radio cool–or even simply viable–again. The clock radio used to be as much a hotel room staple as the Gideon’s Bible and a cigarette burn on the bedspread; like a local newspaper, it provided travelers with a little window into the community. 

But an actual radio was not to be found at the Vegas Hilton–home of radio stars Elvis Presley, Barry Manilow and, for a few days this week, thousands from America’s broadcast community.