How Broadcasters Can Use Digital To Win

Earlier this week, we answered some prominent radio industry whistling-past-the-graveyard about how online radio wasn’t real radio.  You can click here to read what Katz said to try and separate radio from Pandora, and then click here to read my  response.

Frankly, the Katz Radio Group piece had some good points about how advertisers can’t replace broadcast radio brands with Pandora, even though Pandora may be getting a ton of listening.  Unfortunately, when it came to what they suggested about what makes broadcast radio as a product different from Pandora, it sounded as if they hadn’t listened to much radio since the 20th century.

So, today, I’m gonna offer you three meaningful things you can do in today’s real-life radio environment that online radio isn’t going to do.


I’ve looked at a lot of radio and TV websites.  Did you know that your big fans think you are special?  That’s why they spend time with you.  However, I’ll bet there’s almost nothing about what makes you special at your website.

Don’t just lean on meaningless hype to promote your broadcast brand at your website.  Instead, create a page about each thing that makes you different and mass-appeal, and explain in a few paragraphs what it’s all about.

You could also promote ways that your fans can be a part of your product (online music surveys, live feedback panels, etc.).  Those are just two ideas.  I’m sure there are others.

Some broadcasters resist this.  They’re more worried about tipping off the competition than they are about embracing their fans.  Pity.  There’s so much more to be gained by engaging your fans than by hiding from the guys at the station across town.


Some broadcasters think that just being local is biggest service they can offer.  Unfortunately, there’s a lot of local info that you may just not get credit for.  For example, if you’re a music-intensive radio station that offers little or no news reports, you can put up a news feed at your website … but no one is going to give you credit for it.  Your fans are going to go to the big TV news station’s website if they want up-to-the-minute news coverage online.

However, every radio or TV station can offer a local event guide that’s targeted at their fans.  Listeners and viewers expect media outlets to know … and communicate … what’s going on in town that’s of interest.  It’s targeted, local info; thus, a country radio station and the CW network TV affiliate would have very different online event guides, even in the same market.

You can talk about the event info on the air, and sell a title sponsor to a long-term deal for both on-air and online.  When you promote it on-air, you send people to your website to learn more.  They expect it; they use it; it builds your credibility and image.  You get sponsor dollars.  What’s not to love?


While Katz seems unaware that there tons of radio stations where no one’s answering the phones or responding to Facebook questions, there are ways that radio can be far more responsive and engaging and interactive than online music services like Pandora.  Here are a few:

  • Answer all your listener email.
  • Answer all your listener tweets.
  • Answer all your listener Facebook comments and questions.

If you’re still doing talk shows or morning shows or request shows where the only way to contribute is on the phone … why?  Much of the world doesn’t automatically choose to communicate over the phone.

When it comes to using social media, are you using your brand’s Facebook page as a special channel to engage your biggest fans so they can bond with you in extra transparent, meaningful ways?  Or are you just tweeting your promo liners?  It doesn’t matter what online tools you use if you don’t offer deeper, focused content and easier engagement online.


Doing so may cause you to rethink your mental model of what makes a great broadcast brand.  Turns out that all your digital resources can be brought to bear to add an extra dimension of content and engagement for your big fans.  Will 2012 be the year you really embrace digital in that way?


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