Category Archives: Radio

Post #18 – Pandora buys a radio station. Now the fun begins.

Pandora has announced it’s buying KXMZ-FM in Rapid City, South Dakota. Their reasons are primarily to do with music licensing as explained by Pandora General Counsel Christopher Harrison (link to story). But the end of the article is the part that’s most interesting to me: “Pandora excels in personalizing discovery and terrestrial radio is experienced in integrating with a local community. We look forward to broadcasting our personalized experience to the community in Rapid City, an area where over 42,000 residents already use Pandora.”

As I mentioned in a previous post, I think the integration of Pandora (and maybe the coming Apple Radio or Spotify), with local radio personalities, news and information is the future of radio. Added to that will be smartphone, mapping and in-car integration to give listeners a complete experience that’s geo-aware and inherently social.

Sound like a lot? It’s all well within the reach of current technology and programming. Here in Boston, it could offer Matty in the Morning on KIIS-FM with whatever music you like and commercials targeted for the individual listener. Information like weather and news would be on-demand and traffic could be geo-aware so you’re only alerted to situations that relate to where you are driving.

It does require listening over an Internet stream, but that obviously hasn’t been an impediment to Pandora’s 70 million users. Car makers are falling over themselves to put wifi cellular Internet into their newest models. Mobile carriers are equally excited by an extra cell device in every car. You can see the benefits of connecting mobile users if you drive with Waze (which might get bought by Google if Apple or Yahoo! don’t wake up).

Waze tracks the speed and location of its users to produce increasingly accurate traffic condition reports. It also allows them to input things like accidents, construction and speed traps, which instantly show up on everyone else’s maps.

Connecting cars like this will raise the hackles of privacy advocates, but the flip side is the possibility of tremendous benefits in traffic management. How many times have you sat at a traffic light that wasn’t smart enough to know the no cars were coming the other way? Collectively, millions of times a day.

Pandora is also important because it does a really good job of exposing listeners to new artists and music, based on their existing favorites. This is not something radio does a good job at and hasn’t for decades.

All in all, the reinvention of radio will be good for everybody except those stations which don’t do it.

Post #11: The CBS “CBSlocal” strategy is an incredibly dumb move

As I look at the efforts by traditional media to incorporate online, the move by CBS in forcing its local stations to adopt “city.cbslocal.com” as their identity is nothing short of mind boggling.

CBS stations around the country have some of the strongest local news and program brands that exist. WBZ and WBZ-TV here in Boston, KYW & KYW-TV in Philly, WBBM & WBBM-TV, Chicago are incredibly powerful local brands and there are many others, both radio and TV.

These are brands which can be vastly helpful in attracting local audiences to their online services. And, by and large, they’re throwing all that brand power away for no reason.
What possibly could be the thinking here?

It’s particularly stupid here in Boston to adopt a brand that, frankly, screams “New York” and certainly doesn’t say “local”. Remember the popular Boston T-shirt? “I’m for Boston and any other team that beats New York”?

And let’s not even spend time considering their tagline describing the Web site: “life just got easier”. WTF does that mean to anyone?

I’m a huge believer in the power of local media to use their local identity to weather the transition to a digital world. I can’t think of a single reason for this CBS blunder except that it makes some corporate Webmaster’s life a little easier.

CBS should bite the bullet and return their local identify to one that is truly local. WBZ is local. CBSlocal is in New York.

Post #7 – Radio needs to re-up with the automobile.

Post-television radio has always had a fundamental dependency on the automobile and never more so than now, as in-house radios reach a low point. Everything that’s come along has impacted radio listening, starting with the cellphone and cassette tapes, through self-burned CD’s and satellite radio. Now it’s facing a new challenge – the online car.

The tragedy is that my Audi dealer is offering me a car that comes with Pandora and not an interactive version of WBZ (our local news and information station) or KISS (our leading rock station). As built-in cellular connections and USB connectors become more and more common in cars at all price levels, things will only get worse for radio if it doesn’t do something about it.

Radio needs to marry itself to the car again – and mobile phones as well. Stations which still have strong brands, particularly news and information stations, should be integrating with music providers like Pandora and, more importantly, to screens in cars and on phones.

Listeners should be able to listen to their favorite stations and have access to key on-demand elements, such as traffic and weather, which can be displayed or played at the user’s command. The service should be GPS enabled so the most relevant traffic would be shown or played, not to mention relevant advertising.

Radio still has brand and habit cards to play – if it plays them quickly. I would like to think that radio companies with savvy management – like Bob Pittman at Clear Channel, are already working on this.

Interesting story: Pandora Buys a Radio Station