Radio is trying to find it’s place in this new season of technology and how gate keepers are being bypassed by consumers. I often hear from radio stations, “Well, we are local and nothing will ever replace a radio station focused on it’s community.” It’s like that is the default response from those in radio. Have no fear because time, weather and traffic is found on our station. Not to be mean but who the heck cares.
It wasn’t that long ago we all tuned into our local TV stations at night to find out what the weather would be and then used radio to keep track of current weather conditions, time, traffic and also to find out the latest things going on in our community. Radio had what you needed. It’s amazing how many stations continue to give the time, temp, traffic as though the listener is actually sitting on the edge of their seat waiting on that information. I’m not saying that you cannot give that info but at the end of the day it’s just not a huge deal any more. I pull up my phone to get the headline news, current temperatures, 10 day weather forecast, exact time not to mention watching traffic updates on my phone in real time. If I want to find out what’s going on in my community this weekend, I simply google it. Again, I am not saying some of those items shouldn’t be in your broadcast but don’t think more of it than what it actually is. Your listeners have instant access to that information.
Being local isn’t enough. You have to offer your listeners an experience each time they tune into your station. With radio listening declining (Mark Ramsey’s Blog Uh Oh: Radio’s Reach Is Declining) you need to figure out how to have what listeners are looking for at your station. I do believe if you are a local station you should be out kissing babies, showing up at concerts, making that local connection but it’s not enough. If that is all you are counting on, you are going to miss the boat when it sails.
Content Is king: This means you have to bring something your listeners want. Provide content they cannot find anywhere else.
Connection Is A Must: You can have the worlds biggest cume but if you haven’t connected with your listeners it’s worthless if you are a non-profit radio station. Just the other day I witnessed a station that uses mostly voice trackers and yet haven’t connected with their audience. They would tell you they have great ratings with their voice trackers but they have failed to make a connection and now the audience simply doesn’t respond when asked to give. It’s not all about cume but connection. I’ll take a smaller cume any day if it means I have listeners who don’t want to live without my radio station. I’ll also raise more money with the lesser cume.
Entertainment: Look, music is easy to find. I have thousands of songs on my phone. I often stream from my phone to my cars radio and stream Spotify, Apple Radio etc… Radio is no longer the gate keeper to my music. I don’t have to call your radio station only to find out you don’t play requests. I set up my phone, playlist and I am ready to rock. Just the other day I was getting ready to drive from Nashville to Louisville. I got in my rental car and as usual I began to set up my bluetooth connection. My plan was to listen to my Spotify channel I had created with some friends. While setting up my phone, the radio came on. I couldn’t tell you what station but the personalities were very funny and entertaining. I never listened to Spotify, at least not until I was out of reach of the radio signal. I would have never listened to the radio for the music but the entertainment was awesome and they had me hooked. As long as radio continues to compete with the phone or tablet for music, it will lose each time. It’s like a flashback to when AM radio tried to compete with FM radio with music. AM radio almost died. Who wants to listen in mono, through static to hear poor quality music when I could just jump over to FM? AM Radio had to change the game and they did that with talk radio. I am not saying you don’t play music at your station, what I am saying is your show, personalities have to be so good that your listener will not go online to stream something, that they will stay with you, oh and you just happen to play music as well.
Radio is changing and it’s changing quickly. Being local is not enough. You have to provide an experience, have awesome content, make a great connection and have personalities on the air that are very entertaining.