Radio: Playing Catch-Up to Our On-Demand Culture | TALKERS magazine : TALKERS magazine – “The bible of talk media.”

Radio: Playing Catch-Up to Our On-Demand Culture

| April 7, 2014

RAIN Summit West coverage by media consultant Holland Cooke 


cookewriterLAS VEGAS — When I joined Netflix, TV listings instantly became less interesting.  And less interesting yet when I installed the Roku box.  If you have Apple TV, you can relate.  Ditto Google Chrome.

Radio remains a vital first informer when the fit hits the shan.  We do live real-time real well.  But AM/FM broadcasters are late to address the convenience use behavior listeners demonstrate via DVR use and “House of Cards” binge-watching.  Meanwhile, advertising dollars are flowing, not leaking, to the digital platform.

A well-attended RAIN Summit West was a full-day exploration of non-transmitter-delivered audio content, and how having a transmitter advantages broadcasters who follow listeners and ad revenue to the Internet.  Session audio will be archived at

Three highlights…

“The New Curators”

In this session, Edison Research VP Tom Webster referenced his company’s recently published “The Infinite Dial 2014,” #22 in an ongoing series researching consumer adoption of digital media.  ICYMI, here’s the short version, and a link to download the entire study:

“67% of Americans have a social media profile,” Webster notes; and song-sharers demonstrate “addict-level” behavior.  “It is now SO easy to create content that we’re ALL ‘content creators’ now.”

Threatening as this may seem to music radio, stations can exploit their cred + popular digital tools to bond with listeners and deliver them to advertisers.

Webster reckons that “it’s not enough to provide sharing tools if you want people to tell your story.”  And THEIR stories.  Stations should “curate content” the way museums and art galleries do.  Inviting listener digital content does what smart talk stations do: make the audience the show.

There’s money there.  Also speaking at RAIN Summit West, Internet pioneer Jason Calacanis noted that YouTube now gets about 10% of all TV ad revenue.  “Netflix is now bigger than HBO!”

One success template that’s emerged is contests which listeners enter by using an advertiser’s product.  Webster held up a SIX HUNDRED DOLLAR fountain pen he won in a contest, in which the manufacturer invited show-us-where-you-use-our-pen workplace photos.  As a fellow consultant, I had to chuckle when Webster showed us his winning photo: an airplane wing, shot from his window seat.

His “3 Tips to Activate Curation:”

  1. Better storytelling tools:  Equip listeners with ways to tell their/our stories.  Make it easy to enter.
  2. Motivate the behavior, as that contest example did.
  3. “Reward the behavior in the wild.”  THANK PEOPLE who participate. 

“LOL!  Local Digital Dollars Are Serious Business”

In this session, Cox Media group director, digital audience Tim Clarke figures that radio’s value is “in our super brands, our content, our personalities.”  As intimidating as Pandora adoption may seem, stations with local brand equity and solid local content can make station apps more “lean-in” (engaging) than mega-apps.

So, as corporate cutbacks continue, listeners will increasingly perceive some stations as more relevant than other less-locally programmed stations.

“The Podcast Phenomenon: Capturing Listeners with Compelling Content”

NPR VP/digital strategy & sponsorship Bryan Moffett disclosed that some NPR shows have bigger podcast audiences than on-air use.

What makes a good podcast?  Tips from this all-star panel:

  • “Have a great host!”
  • “The story is the star.”
  • Use data suggests that length “around 30 minutes” seems to be habit-forming.
  • Important: good production values, i.e., mic technique.
  • “Chatty, shooting-the-breeze informality” CAN work.  But avoid rambling, or users will “skip.” 

What makes a good podcast commercial?

  • “Cheap CPM”
  • Don’t just think 30 or 60 seconds.  Longer integrated ads CAN work if it’s a good story.
  • Results analysis: 2-ads-per-episode seems to work. 

Also underway here in Las Vegas: the National Association of Broadcasters’ NAB Show kicks-off.  I’ll have notes here each day, and you can follow my real-time Tweets @HollandCooke, and read my notes at


Holland Cooke is a media consultant who works at the intersection of radio and the Internet.  Meet him at Talkers New York on Thursday, June 20. 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Category: Analysis