Old Media. New Tricks.

Archive for July 2008

I’ve gotten involved in a discussion over at Hear 2.0 this morning in regards to whether or not radio station content being shared on P2P sites is a good indicator of what your audience thinks of you.

Mark makes this point:

What most folks in radio don’t know is that nearly half of all web traffic happens on peer-to-peer (P2P) networks – that’s the place where fans share music and movies.

Now radio stations spawn a lot of content – some of it available in mp3 files and podcasts. But have you ever tried to look up your favorite morning show on a P2P network to see what, if any, of their content resides there?

I have, and the results come up way short. There’s very little authentic content from even the best known morning shows (with the possible exception of a certain “Howard Stern”).

Why is this, and what does it mean?

P2P content is shared content. And shared content is content that I or you save. When you don’t find your radio station’s non-music content on a P2P network that means it’s generally not saved in folders which are open to sharing, which is another way of saying there’s little interest in sharing it in the first place.

Now granted, a morning show interview with a music star or a comedy bit is in a different category than, say, your favorite song (the former you want to hear once, the latter many times) or a movie that has yet to hit DVD.

And I know you might argue that P2P is driven largely by the sharing of illegal content, but you can find plenty of free TV shows on there, why not free radio shows? Sure there’s a bunch of Howard Stern and NPR content there, but where’s your “content”? [Hear 2.0]

My belief is that Stern is on P2P because his content is locked in a subscription model. You have to be a satellite subscriber to hear it, it’s not podcasted.  The fans break the model and look like hero pirates by putting his content in the torrent engines.

However, if a mainstream radio station is actively archiving and podcasting their interviews on a website, where’s the need to P2P it? If people want it, they can get it from the site, they don’t need to go to LimeWire or the Pirate Bay to download the latest interview from Nat and Drew.

The more accurate measure of radio’s presence and the quality of spoken word content is to search your call letters or jock names in Summize, or Technorati.

People blogging about something you did, spreading the word virally, is more valuable than a 3 min bit on fart jokes on LimeWire or YouTube.

How are you enabling your audience to spread the message?  Are you giving them a message to spread?  Do they care?

Ego surf yourself on the torrents, P2P, and blog engines and see what the world has to say.

catch the buzz … pass it on.

There are no radio tuners built in to the iPod. If you want to listen to the radio with your iPod, you have to buy bulky adapter that will let you crank out the hits from your local flame throwing CHR.

Many other mobile media devices, like those from Creative, do have built in tuners, but the market leaders from Apple don’t.

That’s bad news for radio. If the device youth are using most doesnt even an opportunity to choose radio, how are they going to be familiar and comfortable with the medium. iPods not only let them create their own radio stations via playlists, the device itself eliminates real radio from the equation.

But now, with the release of the SDK for the iPhone, radio has a chance. Apps are being created for the platform that actually let people listen to the radio on an iPhone or iPod Touch.

CBS was first to release a free application in the iTunes App Store.

“AOL Radio “Powered by CBS Radio” allows you to listen to more than 150 CBS music, news, talk and sports stations across the United States, as well as customized stations created specifically for online listening. By default, it uses the iPhone or iPod Touch’s location awareness capabilities to play stations in your area, but you can also use it for out-of-town stations. [CBS News]

Kurt Hanson looks at the apps a little skeptically, calling them the “canary in the coal mine.” Jeff Jarvis shares the fear and sees the Pandora app as a potential radio killer

“My most striking realization since getting my iPhone (love it, thanks for asking) is that radio is doomed. Pandora is a wonder, creating my own radio station, live and on the fly without need for a broadcast tower. CBS is streaming all its stations over the cell network but when I told my wife this she kept asking, “Why would I want to listen to a CBS station?” That’s not the point, I huffed; we don’t need broadcast towers..[Buzz Machine]

But we’re being given a chance. If national radio companies create an app and put it on the iPhone, they’re giving themselves a chance. Sitting on the sidelines an doing nothing continues the trend towards mobile devices that exist in a world where radio does not.

Time shifting.  It’s one of the big buzz phrases for how we’re consuming media.

Ever since the dawn of the VCR we’ve been doing it.  Recording something from live tv, to watch at our own convenience.  The TiVo is the killer app for recording television programs.  It remembers your favourites, lets you pause live tv, and much more.  The TiVo becomes your own little television station, you load up the drive with your favourite shows, so when you want to watch tv, there’s something to interest you waiting on your TiVo.

Podcasting can work the same for radio.  Yes, you’ve got a great live morning show, or a hot midday talker, but sometimes people have dentist appointments, sleep in or just forget to catch your program.  If you set up a podcast, the show will be sent to them when it’s updated and waiting for them to listen to when they have the time.

I subscribe to about a dozen podcasts.  Most are original online content that doesn’t originate on radio, but I do also get CBC’s The Hour, Spark and The Team 1040’s Pratt and Taylor sent to my iTunes.  They’re all programs that I love, but don’t have the time to track and listen to, yet I subscribe to the podcast and have them on my computer, ipod or cd when I do have time.

It’s also made me more loyal to those networks as I try to catch the rest of their programming when I’m on the road.

A new study says that podcasting actually increases radio tuning.

Research firm Ipsos Mori has found that 10% of those surveyed said they listened to less live radio after starting to download podcasts. However, 15% said they listened to more live radio since they began downloading podcasts, and 39% said they were listening to radio programs they did not listen to previously. [podcasting news]

Creating a podcast is simple.  Have your morning show producer cut up the best bits from their show each day and put it into a 30 minute package that people can download on their iPod to listen on a lunch break, or on the ride home.  Take artist interviews and live performances and attach them to an RSS feed so even if listeners miss the live action, they’re still in the loop through the podcast.

Yes, while people are listening to a podcast, they’re not listening to the radio – mostly because there’s not enough radio being podcasted for people to take advantage of the time shifting they’re already used to from their TiVo.

How can your radio station use Twitter?  Well, first you have understand what it is.  Here’s what wikipedia says:

Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to send updates (otherwise known as tweets) which are text-based posts, ranging up to 140 characters long.

Updates are displayed on the user’s profile page and instantly delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them. The sender can restrict delivery to those in his or her circle of friends (delivery to everyone is the default). Users can receive updates via the Twitter website, instant messaging, SMS, RSS, email or through an application such as Twitterrific or Facebook.

I like to use simpler language. Twitter is like your Facebook status line, but people can subscribe to that and only that. It’s a quick and easy way to share headlines of information.

To see a media outlet using Twitter effectively, look at the Timesonline where they have no fewer than 2 dozen Twitter feeds.

They get it.

So how can you get it?

This week I have been hammering Twitter with radio relevant information. When the news of the new Rogers iPhone plans broke, I had an interview with a local iPhone expert on the radio. I tweeted that the interview was coming up and had word spread so people could tune in.

When an Amber Alert was issued for a girl on Vancouver Island, I mentioned the information on the radio, but also posted it on Twitter.  Within SECONDS it went viral.  Hundreds of people were posting and reposting the tweet, spreading the message faster and faster.

Twitter is a way to reach out to people with your radio brand who aren’t currently listening to the radio and bring them in. We all hook what’s coming up before a stopset; hoping to keep listeners on the dial for another 5 minutes, but hooking to people who aren’t even listening to the radio is even more valuable.

The best part is its easy to do. 140 characters is maybe 2 or 3 sentences. Your jock can do it in between songs, while they’re check email, surfing YouTube and checking Facebook.

Hook the Traffic info, hook a contest giveaway, hook a headline, hook an interview. The important thing is that you provide valuable information and give people a reason to not only follow your Twitter feed, but to also tune in to your radio station.

Ryan Seacrest took his Los Angeles morning show nation wide today, but it’s not a syndicated morning show – it’s just a show. Seacrest does AM in the West, making it midday in the east, so the show is edited and repackaged for late middays or pm drive across the country. It’s brilliant, you take Seacrest’s brand power, and repackage it.

Sean Ross of Edison Research has an excellent blow-by-blow review of Seacrest’s first day. Go ahead and read it, but it’s the last paragraph that’s the most important. It’s all about how to beat Seacrest.

Being up against national celebrities is not in itself a game-ender, but it does put the onus on making sure every break is a monster, every caller is compelling, and that a station’s localism and its own stationality is as well used as possible. I wouldn’t fool myself that any local content automatically trumps national starpower. But I’d be working very hard to find those things that might. [Edison]

That advice is perfect for any jock, any pd, anywhere. It doesn’t matter if you’re up against Ryan Seacrest, or Howard Stern, or an iPod, that advice is the bare bones of how to do a successful radio show.

I can talk about social media and networking and using the web to market your brand, but the basics still matter. You can sizzle all you want, but if the listeners don’t find steak they’re gone.

Go ahead, read it again – and get it done.