Investing in radio for content

Some time ago I had a discussion with Chris Miller (show some love).  I asked him what an entity like a magazine or a popular blog would do if they had the broadcast power of a radio station all to themselves — and tried to circle it back with the idea that maybe the reason radio is so behind on creating compelling web content is because just like our print friends — they wouldn’t how to manage it properly… until now.  

The Boston Globe has done something remarkable here.  What they did was invest IN RADIO to expand their content, reach and relevance.  Check it out — go to Boston.com and right on their homepage (on TOP of the website with prominent viability) you’ll find the link to their stream for RadioBDC. It’s located on the landing page and simple to get to their streaming player.  Once you’re there things are smooth. It plays a pre-roll intro (or an ad) and goes straight to the music.

I have a few thoughts on this.  First — how great is it that an entity like a newspaper is investing in radio as another form of content?  It’s another vehicle for them to spread and expose their content.  Second — why does it have to be a newspaper that finds value in web content in the form of music?  Streaming is something we all do, but how little content do we actually prepare for our websites?  Third — they’re main content is alternative music.  They’ve found a niche in Boston that wasn’t currently being filled and FILLED it — all wrapped around their branding and message.  If you think about it, that’s the core audience that would typically get their news and information off the internet, so it’s extremely smart to target that demographic.

I hate to say this, but maybe it will take a newspaper to show radio how to be successful and relevant in the future.  Don’t get me wrong, this is just ONE publication that’s trying this out.  But we all have the tools and the talent — why aren’t more broadcasters realizing the connections between what our listeners are doing while they’re listening to our stations?  They’re texting friends, working on a computer, interacting with other people, using social media and really connecting with the world.  How are you connecting if what you’re doing on-line offers no extra value than what you’re doing on-air?  And for future streams of revenue, their sellers have to be excited for an awesome tool of new ad revenue.

<in my best infomercial voice> But wait… there’s more!  </end voice>  They even created more content to eat up by documenting the process with a video.  Check it out here — it’s well worth the view.

This big newspaper invested in radio as a new form of offering their readers (now listeners) exclusive content.  I think it’s great that someone out there is investing more in radio — even if it is a newspaper.  But we as broadcasters need to step it up and realize that we can offer more than music to reach our listeners.  We need to incorporate ourselves into their lives with Twitter, Facebook, videos, podcasts and yes — even local content that interests a local listener.

I ran an air-check on them for about a half hour this morning and didn’t hear an ad — just music and imaging pieces.  They did have news and sports updates at the top and bottom of the hour… along with a few talk breaks from jocks.  Notice the content is still focused on local happenings in the Boston area.  Here’s an edited version of the air-check you can hear for yourself.  This was recorded between 8:35A and 9:05A on 8/14/12.  Just Push Play: 

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If anything, ask yourself this: if you offer NOTHING on-line… what do you think your listener will take away from their web experience with you?  AND if you do offer something, is it enough?

About Ryan Wrecker

I'm an award winning radio programmer, news anchor, talk show host, digital guru and problem that currently serves as a writer for Radio Ink Magazine. My blog (RyanWrecker.com) is designed to help personalities advance themselves through content creation. Follow me on Twitter @RyanWrecker
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