Reasons Why Radio Listeners Ignore Your Morning Show

Just last week, Mark Ramsey of Mark Ramsey Media wrote a terrific piece on why radio listeners ignore your morning show, and I wanted to give my take on it as well.


Much of what I say replicates what Mark says but I have 3 simple reasons why listeners will not listen to your morning show.


1. They are not any good

I listen to radio every morning during my commute to the office – and 90 percent of that listening is to sports talk/news talk radio. The local guys here in Kansas City offer something that is unique and compelling to me and that I can relate to, want to listen to, and feel compared to share with others.


I can remember when I was younger and I would tune in every evening to the local hip hop station because they offered me music that I couldn’t find elsewhere. But that was the main reason why I tuned in. Once the internet boomed and internet radio giants came around, I no longer needed the DJ. Besides all he/she was talking about was the upcoming song that they were about to play.


DJ’s today aren’t transparent, will not spend time to update you on the industry, nor will they engage the listener to really get the pulse of the audience. Which brings me to my next point…


2. Radio stations are too busy talking AT their audience and not TO their audience

The people that you are speaking to want to be heard. They want to feel that they are connected with you and the rest of the world around them. Too many times your radio personality sounds like a robot that is going to speak to a scheduled set of topics no matter how the show is going.


I am fan of ESPN’s Mike and Mike In The Morning and many times they will have topics that they are supposed to discuss, but that they simply change direction based on the discussions with the audience. As a formatted music station listener, I want to hear the gushy gossip of Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, and I want to talk about up and coming music artists.


Be prepared to be flexible with your topics of discussion.


3. Because management is simply too cheap

It is no wonder that the rich get richer. They simply put in the time, effort, and MONEY to get a return on their investment. Quit spending time on finding the most cost effective radio show host, and spend more time on finding the most effective radio show host at any cost.


I recently visited with a friend and client of ours, and asked them about their DJ’s. He mentioned that one of their best personalities couldn’t cut it at a different broadcast group, and so his station hired them. Now that sounds bass ackwards to me.


Eventually you will get what you pay for, and it won’t pay dividends.


So as a lasting note, spend more time on improving your product, and the easiest way to do that is to listen to your listeners and their needs and wants. At what point did we get away from offering quality over the air to offering quantity (ad commercials) over the air. Take back your radio programs and you will eventually take back the listeners who are no doubt leaving your station’s morning show.


Six-in-ten ad buyers say they’re more interested in streaming radio than they were a year ago. That’s according to a new survey by STRATA among agencies that use its media buying software. The growing interest in online radio comes as the survey shows just 8% said they’re more excited about over-the-air radio ads than they were last year.


That’s the lowest figure in the 20 quarters that STRATA has been conducting its surveys. The high point was coming out of the recession — in late-2010 nearly one-in-four agency buyers said they were giving radio a fresh look. Of course dollars and interest are two very different things, with streaming still netting just a fraction of what FM/AM radio bills in a year. “In the advertising industry, the buzz often comes before the pay off,” notes STRATA EVP Joy Baer.


The latest survey shows radio still ranks third behind TV (51%) and digital (35%) for which medium agency clients are most interested in. Just 6% of buyers said radio — the lowest since early 2009. STRATA based its results on a sample of 75 agency media directors and agency executives. It’s not just web radio that’s capturing more interest.


The survey shows web video and social media are not surprisingly brighter features on buyers’ radar. Meanwhile ad agencies are less worried about clients cutting media budgets. It was previously cited as a top concern, but budget cuts have dropped dramatically, with only 8% of agencies calling it their biggest challenge.


It’s all about mobile growth.


That’s according to streaming measurement company Triton Digital, which says mobile was the fastest-growing streaming listening measurement indicator for 2013.


Average active sessions hit approximately 2.8 million during the Monday–Friday, 6 a.m.–7 p.m. daypart in the fourth quarter as year-over-year listening rose 21%, according to Triton. AAS is the average number of listeners, who listened for at least one minute, during the daypart.


In the M–F 6 a.m.–8 p.m. all-streams daypart, mobile average active sessions increased by 41%, while desktop declined by 1%, notes Triton, which says, “The dramatic increases in mobile and in-car listening will only continue to skyrocket the tally as we move forward.”


The audience measurement firm saw “significant” growth, 19% for all streams in all days, in streaming listenership compared to the prior year. In fact, Triton says “it’s been an incredible year for audio as a medium and our industry as a whole.”


This afternoon, Mersoft Media CEO, Ron Sloop and I (Gabe Barnes), sat down and were bouncing ideas back and forth on app ideas and design. The discussion eventually shifted into what we think the future holds for the mobile app business in the radio industry. In doing so, we came to a bit of what could be a scary future for local radio stations.

Before I tell you what we see happening, let me first say this. I have always grown up listening to the radio, but only now, once I have jumped into the industry of tech consulting and app development for radio and media companies did I really begin to appreciate what radio means, and does for our society. But with my research into the trends and changes of radio, I see businesses spring up that are attempting to eliminate traditional, terrestrial radio listening.

Now back to my original point!

Meet Pandora, iHeartRadio, Tunein, as well as the other internet-only streaming providers. Little do people know, the leaders or CEOs of these companies have their experience in technology… not radio! Their interests are enhancing their technology and not the radio stations brand.

These groups have tech geniuses at the helm, who are thinking many years ahead of radio stations in terms of the digital space, and their vision isn’t bright for the local station. Everyone is pitching that you have to get mobile – and you do! But there are ways to go about it, as well as a strategy!

Tunein and Pandora are gaining millions of listeners, and those listeners are obviously in local markets. These Internet-streaming conglomerates are now focusing on pursuing local advertising! Uh oh local radio station, you know what that means? Competition. See this article: Pandora takes aim at local radio advertisers

Stations are getting mobile, giving away their users, and will then have to inevitably compete for advertising sales with the Pandoras and TuneIns of the world for the very eyes and ears that they innocently handed over. Besides, surveys show that people want their own individual stations’ branded app on their phone.

So what will it take for stations to realize that they need to keep their individual branding, and the local presence?

F.U.D – Fear. Uncertainty. Death

I am not trying to scare anyone here, but there will come a time very soon where the big internet-streaming giants will be in your backyard pitching to your very own advertisers for the opportunity to reach your listeners and mobile users! And let me warn you… big companies have big bucks that allow them a ton of flexibility.

So do your homework and research, and think long term. Don’t sell your soul (brand) for short term gain, when the long term consequences spell death! Keep your brand and your P1 followers close. Pandora and the Tuneins aren’t on radio’s side. They consider terrestrial radio to be the enemy. And so goes the adage “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer”…why else would they so politely invite you to jump on board with them?


This morning I read a great piece by Inland Press editor, Adolfo Mendez. He interviewed Kerry Oslund, VP of Digital Media at Schurz Communications. Kerry provided great insight and transparency into his groups’ mobile application experiences.


We think that every media company – Radio, Television, and Publishers – should read this and take it to heart. Let me highlight a few quotes and points from Kerry Oslund here from the article:

  • “We knew we had to get into the mobile space in a bigger way, and part of the subsector of the mobile space is apps.”
  • Once apps are developed, media companies need to be ready to maintain, repair and upgrade them, he said. “Now we’re in the support business as well because we developed an app,” he said. “If it breaks in the middle of the night, we fix it in the middle of the night.”
  • For Schurz, potential business (app developer) partners are evaluated on the basis of what kind of technical support they can provide, he said. “There is a reason many of us chose vendors sometimes not for the complexity of the technology but for the support that we need,” he said. “When we’re looking at vendors, we try to minimize the technology expense and pay fair value for support.”
  • “The early numbers [of mobile app use] compared to other numbers was small, but the ramp was steep so you couldn’t turn your eyes away from a ramp like that,” he said. “The more you looked at that ramp, the more you realized that this was a trend that didn’t seem to be showing any signs of stopping at all.”
  • For the Herald Times in Bloomington, Ind., the company used its own internal resources to build a mobile presence. “We wouldn’t want to repeat that again and again,” Oslund said. “It would be very expensive to do that.”

Kerry mentioned that last year, 5 percent of their online traffic was mobile traffic, and that he would expect that number has already doubled. From our point of view as a developer of such applications. It is key that our clients be informed of the experiences of their industry colleagues and be able to learn from those experiences to make informed decisions with strategic moves.


My call to all media groups is this: Be a fantastic feed-provisioner. Have a great tech team that knows how to format feeds.


To read the full article, click here.


Radio Ink recently released a report detailing the state of Sports Talk radio for the major networks and where each group believes is in store for 2014. The overwhelming consensus? Digital and Mobile growth.


In the report, top executives from ESPN, CBS Sports, NBC Sports, and Yahoo Sports Radio were interviewed. Fox Sports Radio, for the record, declined to be interviewed.


To really see the impact of digital/mobile for these groups you can turn to the Worldwide Leader ESPN. Traug Keller, SVP/Production, Business Divisions at ESPN, says that his group is seeing consistently north of a 40 percent bounce to their ESPN radio terrestrial numbers thanks to their digital products.


The competition will be stiff in 2014 and the content offered on-air will be essential to these groups continuing to keep market share. But what will be just as important is being everywhere the listener is, and that includes the mobile app. Chris Corcoran, EVP/GM, Sports Programming at WestwoodOne, best sums it up: “We think it’s (mobile app) a critical piece of our business strategy. As time goes by, it’s going to become a major part of what we’re trying to do, and kind of a business on its own”. He goes on to say, “We’re trying to work with NBC to make sure there’s promotion and awareness from the network. I think a big part of that will be on the app.”


NPR has amassed nearly $17 Million in grants and most of it is going towards financing the “creation of a new mobile and web platform that is expected to allow it reach more listeners and better compete with outside aggregators of public radio content.”


Apparently NPR “gets it”. They realize that they want to put their app in the hands of every listener; and it “will allow listeners to switch smoothly from, say, a clock radio to a web-enabled car.”


The need to have a uniquely branded application and to own the app were very important in the decision to spend the money.


“It is a play to take control of our own content and to control the platform and delivery system as much as we can,” says Charles Kravetz, general manager of WBUR-FM in Boston, a pilot partner.


We have been saying this all along, it is important that stations do not give their souls away to the likes of a TuneIn or Stitcher.


What was interesting to also note was something that was said by Laura R. Walker, Chief Executive of New York Public Radio. She says, “We see a huge thirst in the digital space and we’re trying to figure out ways to create experiences for people here.” This was in context to one of her stations, WNYC in New York, having experienced double-digit growth in digital listening, even as its radio listening remains “at an all-time high”.


So when you think that one hundred dollars a month or so for your own unique mobile brand is too expensive, imagine spending millions like NPR.


Interactive and shareable, “this app is clearly, we think, going to be very appealing to younger consumers of our content,” says Kravetz.


Don’t believe everything that you hear, b/c as we all know, there are usually three sides to the truth – one side, the other side, and then the truth. In this case, radio says one thing about the amount of listeners, Arbitron claims another number with their PPM (Portable People Meter), and then their is the truth! And it is hidden in plain sight.


The perception is that radio has declined but that is not the case. People may spend less time listening than they used to, but there is still an appetite for it. The new radio listening, or audio, is way up – especially on the sports format. Traug Keller of ESPN says, “Listening is 65% higher than what is recorded by Arbitron if you add podcasts and its 220 million downloads.”


Sports talk hosts bring their flare and personality to the airwaves and have a way of captivating an audience, especially during major sports seasons. They can be the measuring stick for teams and coaches to gauge how they are doing. And with the advent of podcasting, anybody is able to simply download a live broadcast to be heard at a later time.


So yes, live radio listening may be down, but overall listening may actually be up!


According to Compuware Corporation’s recently released holiday survey about the adoption of mobile shopping by consumers, findings show that this year, 49 percent of smartphone and tablet users intend to use their mobile devices to search for and/or buy gifts, and 36 percent plan to do more shopping via their devices this year than last. The findings also show that performance of retailers’ mobile websites and native applications can have a major impact on bottom line success during peak shopping periods, like Black Friday, Cyber Monday and beyond.


Key findings from the survey:


–Mobile Performance is Critical: A resounding 37 percent of smartphone/tablet users will abandon sales to shop elsewhere if a retailer’s mobile site or mobile application doesn’t load within three seconds.

  • Mobile Generation Leading the Way: The younger the buyer, the more likely he or she is to shop by smartphone or tablet. In fact, 66 percent of “Mobile Generation” (smartphone/tablet users age 18 to 34 years old) will search and/or buy via mobile devices this holiday season and 53 percent will do more holiday shopping this year on their smartphone/tablet this year than last year.
  • Barrier to Future Sales: Just one disappointed user is all it takes, as 29 percent of smartphone/tablet users who have a poor online shopping experience say they are likely to complain on social media.
  • Mobile Devices Pose a Complexity Challenge: Retailers need to factor multi-device usage into their online strategies and user experiences, as 36 percent of smartphone and tablet users will use more than one device to search for or purchase gifts this holiday season.
  • Native Application Performance Will Be Essential: 34 percent of smartphone/tablet users will be using company-specific native applications this holiday season. This makes complexity challenges difficult as performance needs to be maintained across multiple application versions and platforms created for different devices.

To read the full article, click here.