In Blog

Steve Goldstein has been one of the brightest minds in radio for decades. Steve and I enjoyed a successful talent coaching partnership when he was VP of Programming at Saga Communications for several years. Now he’s on the leading edge of on-demand audio. Steve explains how to keep radio competitive in our on-demand world. Randy

Steve is founder and CEO of Amplifi Media and a partner in Sonicai, focusing on voice-assist device content and execution.

Today, television is primarily an on-demand medium having crossed the 50% threshold from “live” a few years ago.  People watch shows at a time of their choosing.

Commercial radio has not yet mastered time-shifted audio.  According to Nielsen, listening to time-shifted commercial radio in PPM markets is less than 1%.

All of that is poised for change as smartphones become entertainment hubs and millions of smart speakers make their way into bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens across America.

Radio can now more easily be consumed at a time of convenience on a device of the listener’s choice.

In a fragmented listening world, new devices and platforms are a remarkable opportunity for audience retention in ways that could never have been done before, and it opens the door to the possibility of increased listening.

At-home radio listening has declined significantly, and radios are sitting in closets and attics. But with 11% of Americans already having smart speakers, and 27 million due to be sold this year, as we like to say, smart speakers put radios back into the home.

Along with the excellent folks at Jacobs Media, we recently started SonicAi, a joint venture focused on developing “skills” for smart speakers.

Here are some things to think about:

  1. Being there is not an automatic win –  Spotify, Amazon Music, Pandora and thousands of other stations are a simple voice command away.  That means it is crowded, and stations need to think about how they will distinguish themselves.
  2. What’s your name? – The systems default to Tune-In and iHeart, but for your station to be heard it must be able to differentiate station names.  There are 55 stations named “Kiss” on iHeart, and 44 named “Mix” on Tune-in.  If your station uses a name such as Mix, Lite, Amp, Star, or Z104, “claiming” the station’s unique name and creating the proper “invocation skill” is critically important.  On Amazon’s Echo, if you say “Z100,” you will likely get a country station in Indiana.

    What we do for clients is develop a “skill,” as Amazon calls their development, and register it with them.  So if your station is Kiss 104.3, we would develop the “utterances” and “skill” so the device exclusively recognizes your station, and then we build the path to the stream and other content.

  3. Think beyond the stream – We are content guys and we don’t think the station stream is necessarily the big win on these devices.  There is a significant opportunity to create interactive engagement with listeners.  80% of a top performing morning show’s content is missed every day.  We are working with clients on the vast opportunity to re-think and re-purpose “bite-size” benchmark content and create exclusive content for smart speakers to drive traffic.
  4. It’s accretive – If your station is in a PPM market and time-shifted content is consumed in 24 hours, it can mean extra quarter hours for your station.
  5. Think “bite-size” content – With podcasting, we see stations posting 3 and 4 hours of content and hoping listeners will sift through it.  We think curated “bite-size” content works much better in this environment.

It is truly early innings, with these remarkable devices and more (including Apple Homepod) on the way. The arc and expectation of listeners – especially millennials – is that great content is available at a time of convenience on all platforms.

We are hyper-focused on getting radio stations past sending all their best content out over the air and on its way to the dwarf planet Pluto by taking advantage of these hot new devices and creating effective retention strategies.

Leave a Comment

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.