Written Nov. 18, 2010 in Mobile Media + Social Networking with 1 Comment
Larry Rosin posted an interesting factoid on the Edison blog about the decline in teen phone usage - for actually talking. As the graph below illustrates, the amount of time teens reported talking on the telephone has declined 40 minutes per day since 2000 - a drop of 38%.
Why this is so should be obvious. Today, over 80% of 12-24s have their own mobile phone. According to the same study referenced above (the Edison Research American Youth Study 2010), texting is by far the dominant mobile activity among young Americans, with Internet browsing, games and social network usage also widespread:
The fact that mobile social network usage is so high, by the way, should also come as no surprise, given the fact that the vast majority of younger Americans are using social media to connect with their friends - in this study, three-quarters of all 12-24 year olds use Facebook alone.
Some of this shift is attributable to the economics of mobile usage - as younger Americans cut the cord, they find their talk minutes rationed, but today's smart- and feature-phones allow 12-24s to send potentially hundreds of texts and dozens of social networking updates every day at minimal cost. Increasingly, however, the sense of real-time connection is what is truly driving this behavior - witness the physical manifestations of anxiety that withdrawal from constant, ubiquitous contact with peers can cause (ever left your phone behind and felt the panic?)
All of which leads me to this finding. Take a look at this data, showing the percentage of 12-24s who have communicated with a radio station using various means of contact:
Here, when we asked 12-24 year-olds if they had ever communicated with an AM/FM radio station (or one of its DJs) using various communication platforms, we see that the number one answer by far is the telephone at 22%, with texting, Facebook and Email well behind at 7-8%. If you saw this graph in isolation, you might conclude that AM/FM radio should continue to focus on phone interaction - call-ins, request lines, etc. If you look at this in the larger context of how young people want to communicate in 2010, however, there is only one way to read this data: broadcast radio isn't communicating with its younger listeners they way they'd rather be reached.
Given the ubiquity of text messaging in this demographic, the fact that texting isn't number one by a significant margin is nothing short of a communications failure by broadcast media in this country. If you are in the radio industry, and you are attempting to cater to younger demographics, it isn't enough to simply talk about SMS, or add Facebook as another channel. Radio stations - and their personalities - have to live in these channels, authentically, to reach mainstream 12-24s in America.
Of course, radio stations will continue to run phone promotions, and listeners will continue to call in - but the 12-24s who are calling in are becoming increasingly less representative of the middle of the bell curve. The next time a DJ plays a song and reports that "the phones are going crazy," they might be closer to the truth than they realize.
Written Aug. 24, 2010 in Advertising + HD Radio + Mobile Media + Technology + Terrestrial Radio with 1 Comment
One of the ironies of the consumer electronics industry's attack on radio--specifically any attempt to mandate an FM in cellphones--is that it's taking place during a back-to-school shopping week. On the station I listened to for two hours the other night, I heard multiple consumer electronics retailers and wireless providers advertising PCs, notebooks, and, yes, cellphones. This week, in particular, radio is a particularly relevant technology to the electronics industry.
While I believe in the inclusion of an FM tuner in mobile phones, the notion of bartering it with Congress for a performance royalty is risky and easily attacked -- as the CEA's Gary Shapiro did -- in almost the same language with which broadcasters assailed the music industry in the first place. From the legislative approval of radio's consolidation to restrictions against LPFM, owners of an FM license have been the beneficiaries of much Congressional protectionism already. And 80% of our own talk hosts would be on the air already mocking any other industry that asked for this sort of intervention or any Congress that gave it to them.
Perhaps what radio should do instead is further demonstrate its own effectiveness. In my fantasy, broadcasters team up and create their own mobile phone. Of course, I'm still waiting for them to create a direct competitor to Pandora or take a stronger hand in designing the Infinite DIal of the future, rather than leaving the directory function of tomorrow's IP radio in the hands of people who make the CEA look like radio boosters.
But would it be crazy to suggest that the free advertising time that radio has given HD Radio for the last few years be redeployed to support those mobile devices that do contain an FM radio? There are, of course, challenges. Broadcasters are asserting that the low sales of existing devices are due to the products themselves and aren't a referendum on consumer interest. And the entire HD campaign proves that you have to pick your causes carefully. The campaign that sells an FM-compatible-smartphone will probably be focused on the phone itself, which would need many attractive features, not just FM.
And, of course, broadcasters have to be prepared to take advantage of actually being on mobile devices. But we know that radio can sell electronics. And this week is one of several each year that proves it. So why not make that industry feel the collective sting of our buggy whip?
Written Aug. 10, 2010 in Internet Radio + Mobile Media + Technology with 2 Comments
I don't claim to hear radio station processing like a Chief Engineer, but as the former PD of an R&B Oldies station in the mid-'90s, it was usually easy to tell when something was wrong. Our Motown hits, cut in the era of hard stereo separation, usually had something missing. On the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back," the "all I want/all I need" bridge would be missing half of its call-and-response. Or Junior Walker would ask "what does it take?" and get a barely audible answer. Even if the Motown hits had been engineered for a mid-'60s AM transistor radio, everybody knew what those songs were supposed to sound like and they weren't supposed to feature The Jackson 3, The Two Tops, and Jr. Walker and the All-Star.
Fifteen years later, I'm hearing a lot of processing issues on radio station streams. I hear stations where the jock or stagers are at dramatically different levels from the music. Or where mid-'60s songs often lose half their content. If you have ever listened to a station at your desk at an office-appropriate level and not known that station was playing "My Girl" by the Temptations until the vocals came in, you know what I'm talking about.
Radio stations, of course, have other issues with their streaming. If your station is not subjecting me to 13 minutes of hardsell PSAs in the second half of the hour, and the otherwise-very-good radio station that prompted this post was not, then what's a few bars of intro between friends? (Even if it is one of the greatest intros of all time.) And we've only recently made the transition as an industry from barely allowing our PDs enough time to hear what goes out over their air to now holding them responsible for what's on the stream.
Listeners are not themselves audiophiles these days. They listen to MP3s through earbuds and hear your station stream through tiny speakers. It doesn't mean that something doesn't register as "wrong" to them when things are out of kilter. I also hear station streams with a lot of oomph, even under less-than-ideal circumstances. Part of the genius of the original Motown records is the famous quality control process that made them sound great on a '60s transistor radio. And part of the quality control process for radio today is making a station sound great on the transistor radio's 2010 equivalent.
Written Jul. 9, 2010 in Internet Radio + Mobile Media + Music Industry + Terrestrial Radio with 2 Comments
My Edison colleague Tom Webster will probably find plenty of takers for his assertion that "the Internet as a medium is actually better suited to music discovery than radio anyway." And I don't disagree that radio could do a much better job of using its Websites to compete with YouTube, Vevo, and other music discovery choices.
But if I were radio, I wouldn't give up the on-air battle just yet. Even as an industry person with access to music, I still discover music all the time over-the-air. WXRK (92.3 Now) New York rushed Eminem & Rihanna's "Love The Way You Lie"--easily one of the most talked-about songs of the summer--on to the air before I got access to it anywhere else. Crosstown WRXP was the first place I heard OneEskimO's "Kandi," a song that I'm ashamed to say had been at arm's length on my desk for weeks.
And I still have a lot of over-the-air destinations for music discovery, particularly now that I have streaming radio on-the-go: Juice FM Liverpool and FM 107.9 Oxford, U.K., will play more songs that I haven't heard than their more recurrent UK Top 40 counterparts. Hungary's M2 Petofi is a reliable showcase for the hipper records that get European pop airplay but rarely make it to any U.S. radio besides the handful of true-Alternative outlets. Similarly, Tom Leykis' online indie rocker, New Normal Music, sold me at least four songs in the hour I listened last week.
On the Top 40 side, there are a handful of stations I can count on from KLJT (The Breeze) Tyler, Texas, to WKSE (Kiss FM) Buffalo, N.Y., that won't necessarily give me my first listen to a song, but will be the first place I hear it in a radio context and remember what it sounds like. Almost any European or Australian Oldies/Greatest Hits/Classic Hits station can send me looking for a song; so can a half hour with non-comm Oldies treasure trove WGVU-AM Grand Rapids, Mich.
Even though I earmark a few hours a week for catching up on music and searching it out, there's still something very different about having a song or two put in front of you in the context of other songs you already know and like. Those songs make more of a lasting impression--as opposed to plowing through a pile (or cyberpile) of unfamiliar product.
This morning, the new Usher single, "DJ Got Us Fallin' In Love," went to radio. I did manage to find it posted online when I first heard about it a few weeks ago. Doesn't mean that hearing it on the radio this weekend will be anticlimactic. It's almost like the difference between watching the trailer and seeing the movie.
Again, I'm all in favor of radio offering something more robust than a handful of videos on its Website. But fighting for the music discovery image on-air would reinforce the value of anything you could offer on your Website (just as the Website could eventually bolster any on-air discovery claims). So what could radio do?
For starters, it could actually start talking about music discovery and recommendations instead of just "new music." As much as I've heard those terms bandied about, I don't hear it on the air in conjunction with new music. And I guarantee that for 90% of the people hearing the new Usher this weekend, radio can still credibly claim responsibility for discovery.
And, as has been previously suggested, it could also co-opt listeners and let them be the ones making recommendations on-air. If listeners are going to think they found everything first themselves anyway, using them in your new music stagers kind of allows radio and listeners to share the credit.
Finally, every so often, about the time a song goes No. 1, I'd put listeners on the air to talk about where they were when they heard the song on the radio for the first time. Many people never think of it in those terms like radio people do. But in August, when "California Gurls" is either officially set (or upset) as this year's summer song, there will be enough people who do have memories associated with it to get a great morning show bit.
Written Jul. 2, 2010 in Internet Radio + Marketing + Mobile Media with 0 Comments
It's only 2 p.m. on Friday, but it's already been a pretty good holiday weekend in terms of the number of format changes in significant markets: Clear Channel has flipped '90s Alternative WRXS Columbus, Ohio, to '90s-based Gen-X radio and Active KYRK New Orleans to Classic Rock as "The Brew." Univision has installed Latin Urban "La Kalle" at KRGT Las Vegas, in case you were wondering if that format had outlived the regggaeton boom. And Atlantic City gets a dance/rhythmic outlet this evening when WJSE Atlantic City, N.J., drops Alternative to become WWAC (Wild 102.7).
But three of the most publicized format changes of the weekend are not taking place on terrestrial radio. Early this morning, Buckley unveiled a New York-targeted Country stream, WOR Country (The Elephant); their announcement of the pending station prompted the owners of KKGO (Go Country 105) Los Angeles to launch a similar New York-targeted stream, due to arrive tomorrow morning. And Talk host Tom Leykis has launched Indie rocker New Normal Music--promising music from only the last 12 months.
So despite Leykis' protestations on New Normal's Website that his stream shouldn't be compared to anything as mundane as radio, it is interesting to see Webcasters (even those with connections to terrestrial radio) opting to launch on what has traditionally been radio's biggest format change holiday. Then again, part of what made July 4 such a big changeover date was the promotional opportunities it represented. So how long do we have before somebody flies a banner over the beach telling listeners to tune their smartphone to the new pureplay?
Written Jun. 18, 2010 in Content + HD Radio + Mobile Media + Technology with 1 Comment
First of all, don't get too excited about the press reports that Apple has applied for a patent to include HD radio technology in future iPods and iPhones. As iN3 Partners' Robert Unmacht points out, "This in no way means they will do it. Tech companies file for many things to protect themselves and never use it. There are power issues (the chip is a bit of a hog), space issues, and always cost issues."
But do ask yourself, what would broadcasters do if HD radio were available on the iPhone (or iPod or iPad)?
Many broadcasters think that being on the iPhone (or any smart phone) will automatically bring them greater engagement from younger listeners, simply by being on their platform of choice. But are broadcasters willing or prepared to engage with younger listeners? Are they going to offer them a second format choice for current music? Or will they continue to hope that 12-24s make do with two Top 40s and other formats (particularly Rock and Country) that play youth-oriented music sparingly?
Are broadcasters' HD multicast channels going to be ready for their close-up? It makes sense that we've moved from throwaway locally programmed channels to national ones. But many of those national stations are repurposed content and very few truly take advantage of the "WLS/CKLW national radio station for our times" potential of having a national radio station. So far, the only way to get a broadcaster to show a lot of interest in their multicast channel is to give them a translator (and thus a new FM frequency in the market) to relay it to.
Can multicast channels be rethought to provide the sort of services that smart phone users are looking for? Some have long thought that HD radio's ultimate function would be as a data provider. Can multicast channels, if available on a smart phone, be used to protect radio's current traffic and weather franchises?
Finally, are broadcasters going to take any more advantage of being on an iPhone (or any other phone) than they do of being available on the iPod Nano? Radio was very excited about being allowed a place on an iPod of any sort. But it was hard, at least at the outset, to find broadcasters who had engaged with radio on the Nano in any way (including using it much themselves). And have you heard anything about the Nano or song tagging in the last six months?
Written May. 28, 2010 in Content + Mobile Media + Technology + Terrestrial Radio with 0 Comments
Even though I'd already paid for Shazam and the similarly intended MusicID, I've just downloaded SoundHound, another "name that tune" app, which differs from Shazam in the ability (it says) to identify a hummed song as well as by offering a chart of songs that are "underplayed" in proportion to their IDs.
The "underplayed" chart isn't perfect--the top two are Usher's "O.M.G." abd Taio Cruz's "Break Your Heart," both of which are receiving heavy airplay now. But there are a few potential secret weapons like the Heavy's "How You Like Me Now" and Melanie Fiona's "Monday Morning" further down.
What was ultimately more interesting was the list of recently requested song IDs. In between all the exotica, and there was plenty, were such obscurities as "Smells Like Teen Spirit," "You Shook Me All Night Long," "Since U Been Gone," and "In the Air Tonight." There were also a lot of recent requests for Country radio staples, such as Kenny Chesney's "Living In Fast Forward," Montgomery Gentry's "Gone," Sugarland's "It Happens," and Reba McEntire's recent No. 1, "Consider Me Gone."
Then there's the most-searched chart which, of course, is topped by recurrents and today's powers: Rihanna's "Rude Boy," B.O.B.'s "Nothing On You," Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now," Train's "Hey Soul Sister," Lady Gaga's "Telephone," etc.
Even if you just think "Smells Like Teen Spirit" must have been somebody testing their humming skills, taken together, it's all a reminder that song ID is still an issue for listeners. And that as much as we'd like them to go to the Website to see every artist and title, they don't really need to. There's an app for that. And people are shelling out at least a few bucks for apps like these because they don't think radio will tell 'em for free.
For many AC stations, pre-recorded song tags have addressed listeners' issues with back-selling. My only issue, if any, is that it's one more piece of business that ought to be handled by the announcers instead of being turned over to the imaging director. Also, if a relatively familiar Mainstream AC station profits by song tags, then imagine what it says for other, more current-driven formats.
One also wonders if Country, in particular, would benefit from song tags--it's always attracting new listeners, particularly young ones, and, of course, they don't all know who sings "Gone," it's six years old. For that matter, given the number of current artists who remain relatively anonymous after a half-dozen airplay hits, song tags might also help build some artist equity. Recent Country launch KJKE (Jake FM) Oklahoma City uses song tags and they have been helpful--even for currents I'd already heard a few times.
Finally, I heard a radio station run a 30-second promo for its Website song ID feature this morning. And you can just imagine the conversation that must have taken place: "If you're going to run a 30-second promo, why not just ID the songs on the air?" "Because that will wreck the flow."
Written May. 25, 2010 in Content + Internet Radio + Mobile Media + Technology + Terrestrial Radio with 0 Comments
It was once a cliché, but it's rare to hear stations asking listeners to set a button for their station anymore. Perhaps some broadcasters (wrongly) consider it irrelevant in PPM world. Perhaps the constant crossplugs for their Web content, or encouragement to connect via Facebook and Twitter, is taking up all that on-air real estate.
But it can never be wrong to ask listeners for the order. (Or, for that matter, to thank them for their existing business.) Or to try and set or reinforce in-car radio listening as its challengers gear up against it. And one also can't help noting that one of the much-cited revelations of PPM is that people who were thought to listen to an average of three stations instead consume an average of six. In other words, about as many stations as they have on their top suite of punch buttons. So why not make sure you're one of those buttons?
When the Infinite Dial does come to every car radio, of course, how stations are found is going to be crucial. I've said for several years that unless broadcasters show some interest in helping design the directory, radio's future is in the hands of a relatively small number of aggregators whose personal taste in station recommendation clearly runs to pureplays, foreign stations, and exotica. Mobile listeners' current choices for streaming existing over-the-air brands are relatively involved directories or single-station apps. And one reason for Pandora's success must be that it offers both the multiple-station choice of the former and the ease-of-use of the latter.
So it's worth checking out Livio Radio's effort to bring the six-button model to mobile streaming with its new Car Internet Radio app. Much of it will look familiar if you've been using a stream aggregator app such as WonderRadio (my radio dial of choice for the last six months), but Livio's app is built to replicate the six button ergonomics of a car radio, as well as containing the rough equivalent of a scan button that gets you similar stations to what you're listening to.
You can see my full review of the Car Internet Radio app here. There were still a lot of early bugs, and I'm not ready to abandon my other apps until I have at least the two or three suites of buttons that I have on an existing car radio. But as an attempt to give radio the mobile ease of use of Pandora, it moves things in the right direction.
And, of course, it makes asking for the order that much more important, particularly for any listeners who are choosing not 18 stations from a market's available 40 or so, but six stations from an Infinite Dial. And it once again forces stations to offer something that will set them apart from scores of other jockless Bob- and Jack-FMs or from hundreds of Kiss FMs.
Written Apr. 13, 2010 in Content + Internet Radio + Mobile Media + Terrestrial Radio with 0 Comments
Okay, I don't think anybody really wants to go back to April, 2009 -- a time of abject panic, sparsely-attended conventions, and daily downsizing in our business. But I thought it might be interesting to look at the headlines from The Infinite Dial a year ago with an eye toward radio's issues at the time and what kind of progress we've made, or haven't. Among the topics of the day:
* The "Second CHR" Boom -- THEN: We took a "First Listen" to WVHT (Hot 100.5) Norfolk, Va., one of many even-more-rhythmic-than-usual Mainstream CHRs popping up around the country. We also wrote in Ross On Radio about whether a second Top 40 had the ability to reclaim teen listening. NOW: The KAMP-FM (Amp 97) Los Angeles miracle didn't repeat itself for everybody who tried it. And while there's still no shortage of the rhythmic pop that fuels that kind of station, we've had another year of CHR hits that didn't sound like anybody's idea of a CHR hit; ("Hey Soul Sister" is the latest). And while broadcasters are hardly tripping over themselves to repatriate teens with any kind of music, much less the all-Owl City format, we do think it's interesting what's happening at KBKS (Kiss 106.1) Seattle.
* The Idol/TV Effect - THEN: We suggested a first single for Adam Lambert, the already polarizing breakout star of "American Idol," who was clearly headed for a recording career whatever the outcome of the show. We're not sure we chose better than "Whatya Want From Me," the current Pink-penned single that stopped just outside the top 10. But we certainly did better than the ill-fated first single, "For Your Entertainment." We also talked about the lack of airplay for then-Internet-phenomenon Susan Boyle, something that AC radio only briefly rectified at holiday time. NOW: In this less galvanizing Idol season, there are still people who would be fascinating to do A&R for (Michael, Crystal, Siobhan). This season's winner will still get a hearing from radio, although being an Idol is less of a sure thing than ever. And whether it's Boyle or "Glee," radio still hasn't found a good way to acknowledge the format-breaking music sent to it by TV. We'll see how they handle the return of "Glee" this week.
* The Loss Of Radio Jobs - THEN: A year ago, we commented on how many people were trading employers' e-mail addresses for membership in "G-Mail Nation." NOW: We've changed a few of those addresses back to work e-mails, but not enough. And there are still downsizings in the trade press daily, if not three or four each day.
* Changing Usage - THEN: A year ago, Edison's Tom Webster wrote about the 47% of respondents to Edison/Arbitron's just released "Infinite Dial" survey who said their cellphone had a big impact on their life, vs. 23% who cited the iPhone and 21% who named AM/FM radio. NOW: The cellphone number is 54%. The iPhone number has nearly doubled to 45%. Radio nudges from 21% to 22% in the brand new 2010 study.
Written Apr. 6, 2010 in Internet Radio + Mobile Media with 0 Comments
Whatever radio's true long-term utility on the iPad may turn out to be, some respect is due to CBS Radio and their CBS Interactive Music Group, which did a great job of seizing the moment this weekend with the rollout of their iPad application, Radio.com including radio.com addresses for all their stations. Even acknowledging the greater utility of iPhone apps to more people at the moment, it still made a lot of other station sites look less plugged-in this weekend.
Written May. 28, 2009 in Content + Mobile Media with 0 Comments
Many years ago, veteran R&B programmer "The Mad Hatter" told me about a '70s promotion by WHYI (Y100) Miami that had particularly impressed him when he was across town at WRBD. He remembered Y100 telling listeners to come to the Fort Lauderdale airport right away for a chance to fly to New York with Elton John.
That actual promotion might have been apocryphal. The closest that veteran Miami programmer Bill Tanner remembers was Y100's "Party In The Sky," a live concert on an L-1011 with acts that weren't quite on the Elton level. (Probably the Andrea True Connection, he jokes.) But it was a great idea for a promotion anyway.
Which brings us to Cory Booker, mayor of a resurgent Newark, N.J. In recent months, Booker has become so active on Twitter that New Jersey's Star-Ledger has done a story on "The Mayor of Twitter." The topics of Mayor Booker's tweets range from cracking down on gang violence to needing coffee in the morning, but a few weeks ago, he used Twitter to notify local residents that they could come join him at a screening of "Star Trek" on the weekend it opened.
Two things stand out here. One is that Mayor Booker is effective with his tweeting in a way that many radio stations can only envy. And "spontaneously" joining your constituents at "Star Trek," while not quite flying to New York with Elton John, is still the kind of personal moment with a celebrity (and a few hundred other people) that radio ought to provide on a regular basis. But it also requires a level of promotional spontaneity -- and staffing -- that isn't available to many stations now.
Written Feb. 13, 2009 in Internet Radio + Mobile Media + Social Networking with 0 Comments
This is pretty cool: Twisten.FM. If you have used Twitter for any length of time, you know that while the constant river of 'tweets' can be entertaining (and distracting), the real power of Twitter comes from unlocking its search capabilities (search.twitter.com). The ability to search for keywords and phrases important to you, your station and your listeners--and then to subscribe to those search results--is a fantastically powerful way to tap into the zeitgeist of the ever-growing community of Twitter users and to stay on top of trends that haven't even happened yet.
Twisten.FM leverages the power of Twitter search by honing search results only to what people are listening to. By aggregating results from some of the many services that post what you are listening to on Twitter, Twisten provides a real-time dashboard of what your friends and followers are listening to. The service allows you to play the songs being 'tweeted,' tag them as 'favorites' and even send them to someone else.
For now, Twisten is simply a very-well executed scrolling playlist of what your friends are listening to. However, Twisten was developed by Grooveshark, a social music community with a number of compelling features for sharing and listening to music, and I think Twisten's real future lies in its potential to create "friend radio" networks--just as Pandora or Slacker allow you to create custom stations by adding your favorite artists, I can see a day when Twisten allows users to create streaming radio stations by adding their favorite Twitterers--the folks on Twitter who have earned their place with a given tribe as an arbiter of musical taste--and creating a little more space between those little white earbuds for shared experience.
Are you on Twitter yet? You should be! Follow me at webby2001, and tell us what you are listening to. I'll be listening, and so will others...
Written Jul. 1, 2008 in Internet Radio + Mobile Media with 0 Comments
When every radio station stream is available on the WiMax car radio of the (not too distant) future, broadcasters will have even more challenges than they have now, including:
* Having a reason to exist among thousands of similarly named, similarly programmed radio stations;
* Being found among thousands of radio stations, and, most important . . .
* Making sure that their station is actually represented. See this week's Ross On Radio, "Taking Control of the Infinite Dial."
Written Feb. 4, 2008 in Mobile Media + Technology with 4 Comments
I am starting to see some radio stations sign up for Twitter, the micro-blogging service that allows you to post very brief comments, updates, and the answer to the all-important question: what are you doing now? Twitter has seen rapid adoption precisely because it is so simple. Updates are limited to 160 characters, so terseness is mandatory--and updates are possible using the web, mobile phones, and even IM clients. The best way to describe it might be to think of Twitter as a way to send a text message to ALL of your friends, family and colleagues at once. The fact that you can do this with a regular SMS message from your phone makes Twitter ubiquitous, dead simple and just plain fun to use.
I've been a Twitter user for about a year now, and I am pleased to report that Edison will very soon have some significant data to report about Twitter, Facebook and other social networking tools. Mark Ramsey had a post on using Twitter a few weeks back ("Remedial Listener Outreach") where he advocated using Twitter as essentially another broadcast medium, with some suggestions on how to "blast" information out to those who care to follow. These suggestions are all fine, but miss the point of what makes tools like Twitter potentially transformative for your organization.
Over the past couple of years I have given a number of presentations to stations and conferences about the true power of blogging for radio stations, and many of the same observations are applicable to using Twitter. The power of Twitter is not as simply another broadcast medium--that is "Stage One" Twitter adoption, and frankly EMail works just as well if that is all you are going to use it for. Stage Two Twitter adoption comes about when you begin to follow other Twitterers. I use a handy piece of software for the Mac called Twitterific that constantly feeds the "tweets" of friends, colleagues, gurus, folks I respect and notable bloggers onto my desktop, giving me a real-time zeitgeist for the web. Most frequent Twitterers I know have huge follower--and following--lists, meaning they are not just "broadcasters," but engaging in conversations. If there is something important happening, I'll generally hear about it first on Twitter. In fact, I watched the Super Bowl yesterday with Twitterific on--it was like sitting in the world's biggest sports bar, with play-by-play from hundreds of people I enjoy reading--and communicating with.
Credibility is built on Twitter, then, not simply by "blasting updates," no matter how clever they may be. Twitter is a different dog. Frankly, I accord less trust to Twitterers who are simply broadcasters, because I wonder if they are really listening to the folks they are twittering to? Even those Twitters who I know genuinely involve themselves in conversations (through other means) can send the wrong message on Twitter very easily.
It goes without saying for Stage Two Twitter adoption for Radio that if someone "follows" you (to get your Twitter updates), you should follow them to get theirs. But just following along is not enough--you have to actually listen and respond. Then and only then can you enter Stage Three--and understand the transformative power of tools like Twitter. First, as I mention in my blogging talk, you have to ask yourself this question--are we ready to be transformed? Is our station ready to become a more transparent entity to our listeners? There is tremendous value in joining the conversation if, in fact, you make it a true conversation. Post Twitter updates about new releases, listen to the folks who respond back, and answer them back honestly and genuinely. If listeners Twitter you asking why you don't play a certain record, answer them back like a real person, not like a press release, and you may make a friend. You need a friend. If enough people Twitter you about a record, maybe play the record already! And tweet back that you listened, and that you actually did it.
In that sense, Twitter is like a request line--but a request line that everybody can listen in on, so you'd best not ignore it. If your station is ready to be transformed into a listener-centric organization, that is a fantastic thing. The power of Twitter is not just in broadcasting--and not even broadcasting AND listening--but in joining a conversation of peers and putting a human face on your station.
Written Nov. 9, 2007 in Content + Mobile Media with 0 Comments
The British radio audience measurement commission called RAJAR does a great job of measuring ALL radio listening, no matter what the device. While Arbitron shows that listening to AM and FM has dropped 14% in the last eight years, we don't have a really good handle on total radio listening when online, satellite, and other platforms are counted. When RAJAR looks at total listening, it is actually up in aggregate.
Well, clearly someone has to try to come up with a total radio listening measurement, and I vow to work with Arbitron and others to do so.
But when one looks at the British data across so many platforms, it really is amazing. We have already written about the British progress in digital radio as compared to HD. But even more revolutionary is their tracking of radio listening on cell phones, or as they would call them, "mobile phones". In the most recent report, RAJAR now reports that 10% of adults in the UK have listened to radio on their mobiles.
I know it is easy to say: "Gee we really need to get radio tuners into cell phones over here." I will honestly admit I have no idea how to make this happen. But I will go along with all the other radio commentators who point out how crucial this could be.
Written Nov. 6, 2007 in Internet Radio + Mobile Media with 0 Comments
New York's freeform legend WFMU thinks it is the first station to crack the iPhone streaming nut, and are now offering podcasts and a live radio stream over WiFi and AT&T's EDGE. I tried both the 128k stream on my WiFi network and the 32k EDGE stream (which isn't gonna pass for "radio" in my book for a while, but is better for talk formats).
In any case, it worked as advertised. It's good to know that later this week, as I travel to exotic Dubai, that I will be able to listen to WFMU wherever I am. For 10 bucks a second, anyway. WFMU used a solution from TVersity to get it done, and it is a neat little hack. If you are streaming and want (if nothing else) to monitor your station via your iPhone or iPod Touch, it might be worth a go.