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SOTM Webinar Audience Questions Part Four: Radio!

Seriously, the State of the Media Report just keeps on giving.  Last week, our Media Research Team released the report and hosted an hour-long webinar, then the team spent this week answering the audience’s outstanding questions. In our fourth and final installment, here’s radio expert Kyle Johnson on the somewhat murky status of XM radio, the changes Internet radio is making to the industry and much more.  Enjoy!

Access the entire webinar on-demand today – it’s free!

Q: Why didn’t you mention Sirius/XM?

We ran out of time before we could delve deeply into satellite radio. On the surface, things seem to be going well for Sirius/XM, with a record number of subscibers (more than 21 million) and record revenues (763 million, up 6%). But the company plans to raise its monthly subscription rate from $12.95 to $14.49 early next year. It is also having a more difficult time keeping the new car buyers who pay for the service after their free trials expire (they kept about 44% last year compared to 48% the year before). It will be interesting to see if people balk at the price hike in 2012, especially with consumers plugging their smartphones into their systems and with internet radio in cars on the horizon.

Q: Is there any data on what men want from radio?

No recent surveys as to what men want specifically, but the inference from the Alan Burns & Associates study regarding what women want called “Here She Comes 2011” is that women who listen to Adult Contemporary radio are more likely to be interested and entertained by radio personalities than the average “AC” listener.  By its very nature, women are more likely to listen to AC Radio in general than men, and the survey concluded that women are 50 to 80 percent more likely to enjoy an AC radio station’s morning show or think that the host is “cool.”

This is significant because it means women are less likely to listen to online streaming music services like Pandora or Spotify, which have no personalities, and that women are more likely to affect ratings since they listen for longer periods of time that the average AC listener.

Q: Are Pandora, Spotify, and Grooveshark actually considered radio since they’re user driven and lack traditional personalities?

Some industry analysts argue that since, for the most part, these streaming services are not personality-driven, they shouldn’t be considered radio. Others say that if the services are taking advertising dollars away from terrestrial radio, they’re radio. In any event, they are definitely demanding attention based on the increasing number of subscribers. Numbers show that Pandora radio listenership is up anywhere from 13 to 25 percent in the top 10 markets last year over the previous year. Seventy percent of Pandora’s use is now mobile.

As a result, look for Pandora to find its way increasingly into cars. Already, seven of the world’s biggest automakers, including GM, Ford, Toyota, and Honda have all announced Pandora integration into their cars. So while it will take time to roll this out and for consumers to take advantage, the company’s goal is to become as widespread as FM radio.

Q: What was the percentage for listening to AM/FM radio?

News/Talk radio is the top radio format, according to The Talk Radio Research Project 2011, a survey conducted by Talkers Magazine. Talk Radio’s audience makes up 19% of radio listeners, followed by Country Music and Hip-Hop/R & B with 14%, Classic Rock 13%, Mainstream Pop 12%, and Active Rock 11%.

Q: Can you provide examples of best-of-breed radio stations that have embraced multiple media?

If you listen to WTOP, an all-news station here in the Washington, D.C. area, just before they break for CBS news at the top of the hour, you’ll hear a pre-recorded sounder that says, “…on the air, online, mobile…” A look at their website will find news stories, on-air interviews, commentaries, as well as a mobile tab where people can download specific content. And it’s no coincidence that it’s the top rated station in the area and was the top billing station in the country last year in terms of revenue.

Q: How is the Internet changing Radio?

We’ve seen surveys that fewer people are getting their news from radio and more are getting it from the Internet, forcing radio to turn their websites into one of those go-to Internet places for news.  But from a technological standpoint, because Internet radio is coming to cars, it’s going to drastically change the way we listen to radio and the listening choices. The question is, how will what we now call radio change to compete with the infinite number of choices we will have for news, music and entertainment. Since terrestrial radio already has a built-in infrastructure, will it use that advantage to adapt and grow, and take personality-driven listening to a new level?

Q: How would you describe the impact of podcasts on radio? Any signs that people are seeking out podcasts more than radio?

I don’t think people are seeking out more podcasts than radio. They are actually enhancing their traditional radio listening and spicing it up with podcasts. They can go to iTunes or some other podcasting service and download their favorite shows that they’ve missed because they couldn’t be next to a radio when the show aired live. They can also look at lists of shows that they didn’t even know about that they might be interested in and listen to those programs at their leisure.

Q: What is the standard for Internet Radio advertising? How would you reach your target audience with companies like Pandora?

One of the reasons Internet radio has become more popular in recent years is because it allows listeners a customized listening experience. Internet radio services offered by companies like Pandora allow for a more targeted approach for advertisers, often allowing advertisers to target by age, geography and interests. So listeners may enjoy a more interactive experience, taking into account musical preferences.

If the studies are true that there are about 70 million listeners per month, this would mean there were about 300 million hours of ad-supported streaming material. That number is projected to increase about 25% this year.  Investing in Internet radio advertising opportunities at this stage could mean big growth in the future.

Q: What was the name of the coupon site (something-jack) that radio stations are driving shoppers to?

Sweetjack is the daily deals program similar to Groupon and Living Social. Clear Channel, the largest owner of terrestrial radio station in the country with about 850, has agreed to run ads for Sweetjack, which is owned by Cumulus. Last year Cumulus bought Citadel, to form the second-largest radio ownership group in the country, about 570 stations. In turn, Cumulus agreed to become part of iHeartRadio, Clear Channel’s streaming app. Partnerships like these may be the wave of the future for radio.

Q: I’m a huge consumer of radio, but as a PR pro, I don’t see the ROI because it doesn’t generate a clip or video to provide the client. Am I wrong?

You are correct that radio content is among the most difficult to record, archive and retrieve, and of the traditional news media, it is the least frequently (and accurately) monitored. Radio remains a weak link in broadcast monitoring. But there are monitoring services out there that include radio. One of Vocus’ partners is Critical Mention, which provides Web-based, real-time monitoring of television and radio.

Q: If someone has a radio recording and wants to attach part of this to a press release, what is the appropriate length to send to get attention?

It obviously depends on the subject matter and other factors, but understand that (depending on the format of the station) sound bites may be cut to fit a station’s needs. Some all-news stations try to limit their stories to 30 or 40 seconds, so a sound bite that would be included could be cut to 10 or 15 seconds. But a longer-form format (public radio or a commercial station’s weekend public affairs-type program) would use longer sound bites or possibly use what they receive in its entirety.

Q: You mentioned that college stations are relying upon the Web more. What type of job options will today’s college graduates find? What are the best internships they can target in order to find the best jobs in the next 5 years?

There are still hundreds of student-run AM and FM stations out there. But a trend that started in the 1990s has sent many others to the Web or away completely as colleges have decided to sell their licenses for much-needed cash. The problem is that moving a station to the Internet does not allow for the education that an FCC-regulated station provides since the Internet is not regulated. However, Internet stations do allow for the development of radio personalities, which is what sets terrestrial radio apart. In addition, there are still plenty of internships and learning opportunities at commercial and public radio stations that will give future broadcasters the foundation they need to be successful.

 

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