Local radio personalities reflect on life after the iPod

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It didn’t look like a big deal, at the time.

“I vaguely remember the - I guess, the debut of the iPod,” says Rock 92 morning radio co-host, Chris Demm – yes, one of those “2 Guys Named Chris.”

It was 15 years ago – Oct. 23rd, 2001 – when Steve Jobs introduced the iPod … only eight months after introducing iTunes.

Elon University music production professor, Todd Coleman, was a fan of the product and saw, early on, the havoc it could create.

“I thought the real disruption was being able to buy single tracks. I think that had a bigger disruption than just physically carrying your songs with you,” says Coleman. “It allowed people to listen to just the songs that they wanted, and purchase them.”

Now, why flip on the radio to hear your favorite song when you already have it … in your pocket?

“We have changed the show,” admits Demm. “It was a combination of technology and also market forces.”

Particularly when Apple opened up the iPod and iTunes to Microsoft Windows technology and sales took off, the smart radio stations like Rock 92 (WKRR in Greensboro) evolved with the times. Instead of playing rock music as they always had, they quickly transitioned into a personality-based morning show, using the talents of Chris Demm and his partner Chris Kelly.

“And I was terrified of it, because I thought, 'What are we going to do to fill four hours?'” says Kelly.

But they adapted just fine – winning awards for their show and having one of the largest radio audiences in the Carolinas, even after other technology was created to compete with them, like the streaming services Pandora, Spotify and Apple Music.

“It's pretty easy to get in the car and flip on the radio and not have to worry about building playlists, or downloading stuff or subscribing to stuff - it's always there,” says Kelly. “And we have found that, yes, people who are using Spotify and iPod and all those things but often times not at the expense of radio.”

And Professor Coleman points out, in some ways these new technologies have brought new fans to radio.

“With the rise of the iPod and iTunes, when Apple made it very easy to subscribe to these podcasts, even talk radio I think in a lot of ways was impacted in that younger people who normally didn't listen to talk radio,” says Coleman. “They only listened to music but they were now tuning in to podcasts about Harry Potter.”

And often then tuning into, “2 Guys Named Chris,” the next morning … see why, in this edition of the Buckley Report.