For a very long time I have believed that the next phase of the evolution of radio was not satellite or HD, it was wi-fi. As more automobiles get wi-fi capability, with the many thousands of radio “stations” you can receive (including your own) over the web, that’s when the whole ball game will change.
I also see the possibility of wi-fi and cloud computing eventually making inroads against the mp3 player. The time will come when you won’t even need to carry your music with you anywhere — if you’re in range of a wi-fi signal, you can have your own music collection at home available to you everywhere via web access.
On the other hand, all this talk of new technologies replacing old technologies may be missing another important change in the way listeners consume music. I’m not so sure wi-fi will replace radio and portable music players — they’ll just all compete on the playing field. There will always be people who will want to carry their music, just like there are people who still prefer buying CD’s rather than just downloading songs. Consumers today are all about having as many choices to choose from as they can.
There will still be a place for today’s radio operators, if we’re smart and savvy and keep our gaze fixed on the next decade… we just need to get used to the idea that our primary method of delivery may not be broadcast towers, it’ll be wi-fi networks.