Fix Your Stream, Streaming’s Advantages, and Holiday Plans

Zooming past Labor Day weekend, here’s this week’s Chris Miller Digital newsletter, featuring:

START FIXING YOUR STREAM

Is streaming technology that primitive that we can’t possibly get online radio to sound right?

This article, “Ad Insertion Technology Disappoints Broadcasters,” says that a large number of broadcasters are so frustrated with clunky transitions and differences in audio levels that they’re ready to just play their broadcast commercials on their stream.  That would be possible only after working it out with AFTRA to figure out how to deal with union talent fees on streams, now that streaming is so common.

I’m calling BS.  I used to be a program director, and I know it’s possible to get your stream sounding good.

Here’s why it’s important that top management be committed to great-sounding streams: I knew that our CEO would listen to every one of his stations’ streams, and when he found one that sounded bad, that program director got called on the carpet.  Yeah, fear was the first motivator for me.  But after you start finding the people who know how to fix the bad transitions and mismatched levels and everything else that can and does go wrong, I got in the habit of caring about the stream.  I’d listen regularly, usually every day, to make sure it sounded good.

The only way I know to get from bad-sounding stream to good-sounding stream is to get the PD to listen to his or her stream, and critique it.  With a list of things to fix, it’s time to figure out who in the station knows how to fix it.  Sometimes, I’d go from the production studio to the engineering shop before finding out that I needed to talk with the webmaster.  Welcome to digital.  No one knows everything, so you have to work with others to get things done.  By the way, I’ve found that if you call the people who provide your streaming, they’re generally happy to help with getting the stream right, as well as digital sales issues you’re dealing with.

Having a stopset of dismal PSAs or a bad song that cuts out halfway through is not a reason to chuck streaming technology.  The streaming audience is much smaller than the broadcast audience … today.  With the explosion of listening on mobile devices, our fans will soon feel deprived if they don’t have the option of listening online or to the broadcast signal.

HOW STREAMING IS BETTER THAN BROADCASTING

No, not in every way.  But I’ll bet you haven’t thought about the things you can do with streaming that you can’t do with your over-the-air signal.

To start with, don’t go thinking that engagement only happens in social media.  Let’s say you make it possible for listeners to give you feedback on what you do … say, the option to click thumbs-up or thumbs-down on any given song or talk topic.  When they chime in with their opinion, that’s engagement!

Most streaming players now have lots of links built in back to the station’s website or social media, but still, one of the big advantages they offer is they show the title and artist of the song being played at the moment!  Listeners appreciate having that information so handy.  Sure, if you listen to a radio receiver with RDS, you can get that information, too.  Unfortunately, RDS is nowhere near ubiquitous.

There are also the sales applications.  On your stream, you can do some surgical hyper-targeting.  You can make sure a spot only gets heard by people in the zip codes around a certain business.  You can target by the sort of device on which people are listening.  Basically, you have options to make a schedule more efficient than the same schedule would be on broadcast radio.  Plus, you can offer opportunities for response with your stream.  You can make a coupon available when someone clicks on the streaming box.  You can pop up a form for someone to complete if they want more information.  A lot of merchants would find the targeting and response capabilities of streaming valuable, in addition to knowing exactly how many people heard their spot … not just an estimate from a ratings company.

You can see more of my recommendations on improving your stream here:

HOLIDAY PLANS

Christmas is still over 100 days away, and summer will still hang around for another couple of weeks.  However, I’ve found that right after Labor Day is a great time to get your holiday plans in order, for two reasons.  It gives you a chance to:

Plan out how you want to use your on-air, website, onsite appearances and social media to do whatever you do for the holidays; and

Get information to your sales department so they can begin selling sponsorships NOW instead of after Halloween.

How you choose to do the holidays on your station is your call.  Some radio stations go all-Christmas music right after Thanksgiving; some barely play any holiday tunes at all.  Many have special events and giveaways and so forth that tie to the season, and for some stations, it’s a super-important time to get the best ratings they can.

This year, work to get all your platforms in the same holiday mood.  Remember the power in being able to move your biggest fans from your social media to your website or broadcast, or from on-air to on-site events, and so forth.  That takes consistency and some planning to make sure you’re not pulling it together at the last moment on the fly.

YOU’RE NOT WASTING TIME, YOU’RE GETTING SMARTER

That’s what you can tell your co-workers when they find you on Facebook.  Let me filter through the crap for you!  Every day, I post a few digital news developments that might actually affect how you do your media job.  Click here to follow Chris Miller Digital on Facebook.

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