I’m not a futurologist, but here are two reasons why I think that community radio will matter 20 years from now. Neither of them has anything to do with digital media or marketing.
First, community media, and especially community radio, will matter thanks to global warming. By 2035 one of Greenland’s principal glaciers will have substantially broken up, raising the sea level significantly. This is only one example of how climate change will impact the earth. As superstorms, droughts, and floods proliferate, locally based electronic media centers will become critical to communities seeking to navigate their way through these emergencies.
Second, FM and AM broadcasting will become increasing useful to populations trying to end run state/corporate digital censorship. We’ve already seen examples of digital shutdowns in various regions of India and elsewhere. Basically you have telecoms cooperating with governments, closing off Internet access during what regional or national administrations deem social emergencies. During those times, good old old-school AM/FM should come in handy for allowing the targets of this kind of censorship to renew discussion and even bring back various kinds of digital communication.
These are, to my mind, the real bottom line reasons why community media is important. Your reasons are always welcome as comments or posts on our forum pages.