Russ White and Gary Reid in 2007. Photo credit: Russ White.
By: Russ White, MSU Today, WKAR
“I never expected to be a teacher. I really never did,” says retiring MSU hall of fame broadcast educator Gary Reid. Forty-four years later, he has impacted hundreds of broadcast and communications-related careers.
Reid tells how his predecessor, the father of the classic rock radio format Fred Jacobs, “put his job on the line for me,” and he describes the tremendous change in students he’s observed over the years.
Listen to Russ White’s interview with Gary Reid here:
Reid is the first person I heard say “content is king” several years ago. But he’s still bullish on terrestrial radio’s future. One of the keys to the medium’s success, he says, is its human connection.
“From my standpoint, it’s really important to differentiate content from delivery. For the older generation, for the gray beards like me, when we say radio, we basically are combining content and delivery. We’re doing a radio show now, but it’s only radio if it’s transmitted. It’s going to be a podcast as well. The difference is a podcast is just streamed online and it comes to the point of convenience.
“Content, from my standpoint, is always going to drive what we’re interested in. While the internet is wonderful, and I think the artificial intelligence, and Pandora, and Spotify, and all that is just fine. To me, the content is really driven by a human connection. We don’t get that from a computer. We don’t get that from artificial intelligence.
“I’m old enough to remember what they called the heyday of radio in the ’50s. Once television came in, there were people saying, ‘turn radio off. Radio is dead. It’s all gone to TV.’ Well, radio reinvented itself. To be honest with you, here it’s 2019 and radio is still the largest mass medium, striking 93 percent of the American population every week – greater than TV, greater than the internet, greater than cell phones, and greater than streaming. So, it’s still a mass medium.
“The delivery is going to continue to change, but the content, ultimately, needs to stay the same. From the listeners’ standpoint, I don’t really care how you get it. I don’t care if it goes up a thousand-foot tower; I just care that you get it.”
Reid shares his concerns about the future of higher education and adds that he’ll stay active in retirement.
“I’m currently the president of the Michigan Association of Public Broadcasters. I feel very strongly about the value of free, over the air broadcasting, public and commercial. So, I’m going to try to stay as relevant as I can there, both in Michigan and nationally.”