When Radio Isn’t Radio: As Media Evolve, Are You Evolving Too?


53% of mothers in a BabyCenter survey said that they are so attached to their smart phones that they sleep with them next to their beds. A study by Pew Research says that 83% of 18 to 29 – year- olds do the same. Apparently, an alarm clock isn’t an alarm clock anymore. Rather, it’s a cell phone.

And study after study indicates that the smart phone has, at least for now, become the “it” device for media consumption, much of which is music. Does that mean that a radio isn’t a radio anymore?

Potentially tough news for radio:  Smart phone use corresponds with diminished use of radio and other traditional media. Those might seem like daunting statistics to anybody who is in the business of getting people to spend time listening to the radio, especially if those people are moms, or 18 to 29 – year-olds.

But then again, maybe not.

Imagine the concern that coupon-heavy retailers must have felt as newspaper and magazine circulation dropped over the past decade. Not to worry- while the percentage of coupons delivered and redeemed via newspaper insert has gone down, coupon delivery and redemption rates overall have grown through new distribution channels (digital and in-store, for example) and through adapting offers and expiration dates to maximize appeal, usefulness and immediacy to the consumer. The media are shifting, but the product has identified new ways to serve its customers and has maintained or improved its value and effectiveness while boosting its consumption.

Why shouldn’t radio be able to manage the same success?

While many stations have already incorporated their product into the smart phone medium by creating their own unique apps, those stations that succeed in the new medium will do so by exploiting the known value of their product as they evolve it to add new value. And they will understand how to engage their listeners’ points of passion, supporting their causes, and creating events and services to build mindshare.

Clear Channel Chairman Bob Pittman would concur, having said in a recent AdAge article, “we have brand permission to give (listeners) more than things in the audio stream. Replays, new parts of the show, coupons, access to artists… the power of being local. (And) we have a social connection, which adds a whole other layer.”

It has become obvious that station apps, text clubs, Facebook, and Twitter are pathways that radio can use to extend its brand value. But ultimately radio’s success- like the success of retail coupons, the record business, and the film industry- will depend on the value of the product and how it relates to consumers more than on the medium by which it is delivered. The extent to which radio adapts its product to provide value by serving its listeners, on the desktop of a smart phone or anyplace else where a radio isn’t a radio, will determine its success.

When the radio is off, is your station still on the mind of that new mother, or that 18 to 29 – year-old? Your most important listeners turn on the radio 31 times each week, and mindshare is critical to winning those occasions. Call or email us to learn more about the dmr 360° Listener Engagement Strategy.

*Fletcher Keyes is a long-time morning show personality, radio programmer and new contributor to dmr’s The End Result.


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