NAB Show: Radio Uniquely Advantaged in Digital Age - TALKERS magazine

NAB Show: Radio Uniquely Advantaged in Digital Age

| April 20, 2016

By Holland Cooke
Radio Consultant


cookewriterLAS VEGAS — Visualize the sprawling exhibit hall here, acres and acres of hardware and software.  There’s an entire pavilion of drones!  And you can’t find a content-related conversation here that doesn’t involve digital content and social media.  So one Tuesday session I attended was conspicuous…

How Local Broadcasters Engage and Win in the Digital Age

In three words?  “Local, Local, Local.”

Katz Media Group EVP Strategy, Analytics & Research Stacey Lynn Schulman recalled visionary digital financier John Doerr’s mantra “SoLoMo:”   Social — Local – Mobile.

She described, and documented, how Mobile media…offers Social apps…to the detriment of genuine Local interrelation.

Said another way: We’re constantly toggling back-N-forth between real and virtual — “our avatars vs. our identities” — at the expense of “real, authentic, true local experience.”  As we spend more time interacting with devices, and less time interacting with each other, we are, increasingly, “alone together.”  “Technology provides the illusion of companionship,” and Schulman reckons that “social media is anything but.”

Avoid “promotion without emotion.”

Yes, every station strives for social capital, and should.  But don’t mistake Facebook and Twitter for cume promotion vehicles.  Used properly, they’re conversations.

Beware what Schulman calls the “smartphones and dumb people” syndrome.  Instead, pursue “tangible experiences,” which local broadcasters are uniquely qualified to offer.

Localism: The New Counterculture

Note “the rise of the city-state,” i.e., “Boston Strong;” “NCIS New Orleans;” and “American Idol” auditions in, and featuring, various cities.

Among datapoints and examples Schulman ticked-off:

  • 64% of diners prefer restaurants which serve locally grown food; and farmers markets have never been more popular.
  • Absolut’s “Our/Vodka” brands partner with local business people in a dozen or so cities, sourcing ingredients locally.
  • MasterCard’s Priceless Cities campaign demonstrates the credit card in local context.
  • And she showed us video of how Target, Allstate, and McDonalds are also localizing ads.

Research demonstrates that “shop local” is a value favored by Millennials, the biggest generation in history, whose retail spending is forecast to surpass Baby Boomers’ in 2017.

Example of how radio can foster – and monetize — such “pride of place:” Connoisseur’s “Keep It In Connecticut” campaign, which we heard about here on Monday (ICYMI, my notes are here.)

Who better than local radio?

Schulman shared “Listener Associations with AM/FM Radio” per Latitude Research.  Top terms the sample chose (more or less in order):

  • “Community-Focused”
  • “Social”
  • “Relatable”
  • “Authentic”
  • “Friendly”
  • “Like Family”
  • “Real”
  • “A part of my life”
  • “Compassionate”

Irresistible consultant observation: Typical station imaging – boastful copy, barking delivery, and “Star Wars” sounding whooshes – seems at-odds-with those attributes.

Schulman’s 4 takeaways:

  1. You need to attain “full functionality across platforms:”  Different fan communities gravitate toward different behavior with different platforms.  Put stuff where they get stuff.
  2. “Expand the vocabulary of expression,” especially pertinent to broadcasters: “Don’t let today’s lexicon limit tomorrow’s big idea.”  Think beyond towers.
  3. “Build for the age of data science:”  Measurable is marketable.
  4. “Tether to the tangible,” where radio’s local posture is a big advantage.  Schulman urges that stations “leverage localism to maximize impact in real communities.”  Touch listeners every chance you get.

As you’ll see in my mini-bio below, much of my work is leveraging radio to monetize digital; and social media is an important tool in that effort.  The useful whack-on-the-side-of-the-head this NAB Show session delivered is a reminder to, as Schulman put it: “Engage consumers with relevant, localized, targeted marketing.”  Or, in the words of Woody Allen: “80% of life is showing up.”

Elephant-in-the-room: Doing local stuff requires local staff.  Robotic stations need not apply.  But as Tuesday’s Radio Luncheon audience applauded a couple Crystal Award winning stations with fewer than half a dozen full time employees, we were reminded that committed stations, working smart, can bond listeners in a way that will continue to make radio special.

Also ICYMI: My notes from Sunday’s RAIN Summit West are here.

Tomorrow here: More from NAB2016.


Holland Cooke ( is a media consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet.  Follow him on Twitter @HollandCooke; and meet HC at TALKERS 2016: Bridging the Generations on Friday, May 20 at Hofstra University, where he will present “Talk Media: The Next Generation.”

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Category: Analysis