How things change.

Living in Tampa/St. Pete for much of the winter gives me a wonderful opportunity to appreciate the practical utility of the expansion of broadcast services on the Internet.

It was three years ago that I first visited the new Internet Outpost Café on St. Pete Beach to collect my e-mail and to view Canadian news from a variety of sources over the ‘net.

Two years ago I realized that I had pretty well given up buying Canadian newspapers and was relying on web sites to keep me up to date with the news from the north.

Last year was the first during which I had constant computer access in my condo and I tested the capacity of America Online to link me to the happenings at home. I sampled a few of the radio sites that I noted at the time . Generally speaking though , I continued to rely on the newspaper sites for hard and current information.

This year I have noticed a dramatic increase in both the quantity and capacity of Canadian broadcast web sites. The radio presence is particularly useful although I suspect that as streaming video improves (particularly on my system) the TV sites will be similarly effective.

For some time I found the unique service offered by Canada Calling , carried on many Florida stations to be of great help in trying to stay on top of the main items of interest to Canadians.

However , that service is obviously only available on certain stations at specific , not always convenient times of the day .

Broadcasting via the Internet is indeed a fascinating evolution to observe.

Those of you who know me are keenly aware of my lack of technical expertise . In these matters I speak strictly as a consumer . The rapid refining of the convenience , ease of access as well as audio and video quality is truly exciting.

Combined with ever increasing transmission speeds and declining cost of access and hardware leads me to appreciate that the marketing potential of this area is impossible to calculate at this juncture . In addition , no one can reasonably estimate the impact that Internet only based broadcasters will have on the “bricks and mortar” folks and the value of their hard won CRTC or FCC franchises.

I can only tell you that sitting on my balcony listening to traffic reports from 680News , the weather from CFRB and the sports from the Fan590 is not only pleasant but it is dead easy for a less than techie person like me . When Leaf hockey player Bryan Berard was injured I listened to his doctor’s news conference “live” on The Fan590 .

At other times my wife listens to the news from her mother’s home via the BBC and keeps updated on her brother in Australia via several stations broadcasting on the net. We also have a favorite Classical music station – it just happens to be KING-FM in Seattle.

I regularly visit various TV sites as well but frankly find radio sites more “useful”particularly in providing local news over the net .

I have the distinct feeling that we are on the leading edge of a quantum change in “broadcasting” .

Thank goodness there are people who are much wiser and better educated than I who will chart the course of continued development .

But it will ultimately be the responsibility of those of us in marketing and sales to raise the funds to fuel these changes . Sooner or later , those wild eyed investors will demand a return on their capital in the form of profits .

When that happens all eyes will turn again to the folks who peddle the product .

The best inventions , the best ideas and the clearest visions will always need the talents of us humble bag carriers to “make things happen”.

In the meantime it’s up to us , as professional broadcast sales people , to learn all we can about this new media and to stay on top of developments . For the moment , that knowledge will assist us in promoting the strengths of our current product and will position us better to capitalize on change which will surely occur.

If your firm has developed new resources on the net make certain you are familiar with them.

If your firm has already set up a new media sales division , find out what they are doing and how it can relate to you now and in the future.

I firmly believe that the current environment provides unprecedented excitement and opportunity for today’s sales and marketing professionals.

Sometimes I wish I was just a little bit younger……………