Thursday, May 19, 2016
COPA Digital Media Spotlight - How Radio reinvented themselves in the digital age
The demise of radio as depicted in the 1979 song from the Buggles - Video Killed the Radio Star is a great example of what's happening to all traditional media in the digital age. Doom and gloom came to the radio industry when TV was invented, but it is still around and is ranked #2 of all mediums after TV.  This high ranking could be higher if AM/FM tuner apps were available on top selling smartphones. The technology is there, where your headphones can be used as an antennae for the AM/FM tuner.

Why then is Radio Surviving?
The answer - The medium owns the car,  it is free and the ads are entertaining.
The facts supports this case. According to Audience Insights, a market research firm, the AM/FM dial has a 68% share of listening time in the car. The time spent in the car according to the 2015 Media Directors Digest is 127 km per week with radio listenership at 13 hrs./wk. TV by comparison is 21 hrs./wk. The 30-second ad spot is very effective in creating “Theatre of the Mind” with a great jingle or brand story versus other ad formats.

 

Radio comes in a wide variety of formats including music, news, talk, cultural and sports. Music has formats like Adult Contemporary, Rock, Hits, Jazz, Classical, Dance and each genre appeals to a different slice of today’ consumer. But, there is no medium that can reinvent itself like radio, as they can change their content format over night sometimes. The history of CHUM 1050 AM in Toronto is a classic case, as it started out as a TOP Hits Radio station during AM’s hey day and is now a sports station owned by Bell Media (TSN).

We now live In a world where all media is crisscrossing each other in their content strategy. Radio websites have also crossed over into the magazine, entertainment, sports and news media space, in this age of media convergence.  So let's have look at what stations across the country are doing, as they reinvent themselves as the “reading and listening" medium—based on their content strategies. You can now go to a radio website listen to the tunes and read news and stories that may interest you.

Indie88, a rock station in Toronto has created a website that is more music and entertainment magazine than radio station. They just won “Rock Station of the Year” at the Canadian Music and Broadcast Industry Awards. The website allows you to check out new bands that do not get airplay on other music radio formats and also offers content on Canadian artists, music, film, events, local Toronto news and music videos.

 

The station was launched three years ago and now has 179,000 traditional daily listeners in the Toronto market. On the digital side the website has 425,000 visitors/month, 45,000 App downloads and 40,000 email subscribers. Users are highly engaged spending 27 minutes per website visit with streaming visitors lasting 1 hr and 20 minutes, which number 50,000 per month.

On the social side the station has over 125,000 followers/likes on three platforms (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram). The digital audience is rock solid and one that any magazine would be happy to have. The questiojn now is…Are  they still a radio station? Or are they a Music & Entertainment Magazine with a live streaming service of your favourite music?

If we go to cowboy country in Edmonton the Bear 100.3, a Rock station, it takes a different approach, using sex and edgy content like “If you Like Strippers” promo and humorous “guy locker room talk” video content for their male demo. Their approach is leveraging the on-air talent Paul Brown as a talk show host that video broadcasts jokes/skits and on-air interviews. I found them real funny, but I am guy and they remind me of Howard Stern in their type humour.

 

In Montreal 96.9 CKOI, a French language Hits Radio station has morphed into a content destination hub that offers, music stories, comedy podcasts and a lifestyle magazine that cover topics like news, sports, arts & entertainment, art of living, technology, science & nature. This hub of information rivals any lifestyle magazine that is out there. This site is a truly a read and listen medium for the French market.

 

Lastly, 680News,  a Toronto news radio station, is now a news aggregator website with  local, national, business, sports, world and entertainment sections from all Rogers titles. A unique feature is a traffic monitor that includes links to traffic cameras for live feeds. This is no different that any newspaper or TV news website for content in the digital age.

 

There are over 560 radio stations in Canada that are in the digital media scene now and they are producing some great content. Many of them will be recognized at the 2016 COPAs for the first time with the Best Radio Website Award and Best Podcast as the most obvious categories. They can also enter in the News and Consumer categories for content, based on what we see here. In my next COPA Digital Media Spotlight, I will be looking at the changes in the Community News area of content as print and local TV stations converge in this space.





- Martin Seto
About Me
Martin Seto

 
Martin Seto is the principal of Reflex Media, a media consultancy practice offering media owners digital publishing, event management and ad sales help. His media expertise also include working with ad agencies as a media buyer/planner for tv, radio, print, outdoor, magazine and online. He has been in the advertising and media industry for 25+ years and he has been an instructor/speaker with Centennial College and at magazine conferences across Canada. He can be reached at marty(dot)seto(at)
reflexmediasales.com or 416-907-6562, and on LinkedIn.

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