I gotta wear shades??? That’s the attitude a strong majority of radio execs express when it comes to the future of their industry…

At the end of last month, we conducted online surveys with radio station general managers, group executives and owners in the U.S. and Canada. Among the questions we asked was…

Think about traditional, terrestrial radio…FM and AM radio stations. Would you say that you are OPTIMISTIC or PESSIMISTIC about the future viability — audience share and profitability — of traditional radio overall?

More than two-thirds told us they’re optimistic about the future of radio as we’ve known it:

OPTIMISTIC 69%
PESSIMISTIC 17%
Unsure/Don’t know 14%

Whether optimistic or pessimistic, we asked why…

While too few in our sample to tabulate, the impact of major ownership groups and budget cutbacks were the most common reasons volunteered by the pessimists.

Focusing on the majority, exactly half volunteered traditional radio’s LOCAL edge as a source of their optimism:

WHY are you optimistic about the future viability of traditional radio?
Its Local/Community Advantage 50%
It Evolves/Reinvents Itself to Meet Challenges 14%
It Can Extend Brands to Digital/New Media 11%
It Works/Gets Results for Advertisers 10%
It’s Free   8%
It’s Portable/Mobile/Everywhere   7%
Other 33%
Don’t Know/No Response   4%

(Note that respondents could give more than one reason for their optimism, which is why the percentages add up to more than 100%.)

I find the #2 reason given for optimism interesting as well. Part of radio’s legend is how it adjusted, survived and thrived after the ascendance of television in the ’50s, when many thought TV would mean the death of radio. Whether radio’s “survivor” quality will keep it going in the digital era remains to be seen.

Now, I’ll admit to being initially surprised at the level of optimism among radio execs and owners. After all, what we hear about radio’s future from some sources isn’t at all positive.

But maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised. Consider who we’re talking about. These are people who work in radio and are invested in it. Their job is to sell radio…to be upbeat about it! Perhaps the bigger story is that 31% aren’t optimistic!

I’ll leave that for you to ponder. But one thing I can tell you is that even if they are optimistic, that doesn’t mean radio execs are oblivious to the challenges traditional radio faces.

Check in here on Thursday to learn more…