USA News

Radio: SiriusXM throws down the gauntlet, but over-the-air radio fails to respond

I didn’t get one, but perhaps you did: SiriusXM sent a mass promotional email extolling the virtues of  its subscription satellite radio service, with the basic point being the headline: Why waste your time with AM/FM radio?

Obviously directed toward listeners, the ad caused quite a reaction … on the part of radio observers. Radio Ink (radioink.com) featured a column on July 13 asking the question, “Are you just going to take this?” And Fred Jacobs penned a column the same day in a blog at Jacobs Media’s website (jacobsmedia.com) with the headline “Memo to Radio: The Gloves Are Off.”

But while the gloves are indeed off, they are off only at SiriusXM. The huge major players in radio today — iHeart, Cumulus, and Audacy — are definitely going to do nothing but take it. Which is precisely the problem: radio, in and of itself a marketing device if there ever was one, is terrible at marketing.

It wasn’t always this way. At one time, stations would place station music charts in retail and record stores, publish newsletters and mini-magazines of interest to listeners, place ads in newspapers, on billboards and on buses and bus benches, host free or low-cost concerts, run live broadcasts at local venues, and even give station swag away as prizes. I still have my KIIS-FM (102.7) travel brush from at least 20 years ago. The idea was that station promotions would hopefully get you to sample the station. For the most part, it worked.

When was the last time you saw an ad — or anything else — for any station in town? Considering the prevalence of pushbuttons on the radios working against the idea of just tuning around, how does any station expect listeners to find them?

Which is a shame, as many stations, as much as even I can complain, do indeed put out a good product. KIIS-FM, as but one example, sounds better today than it has in years. Much of it has to do with an abundance of good new music, but the station itself does sound good even in the important part: between the records. Likewise, content on Alt 98.7 is superb, with the best morning show in town (“The Woody Show”) and a great afternoon show (“Booker and Stryker”).

KROQ (106.7 FM) finally seems to be getting on the right track and sounds great right now as well, as does My FM (KBIG, 104.3 FM) and KOST (103.5 FM). Go Country (KKGO, 105.1 FM) always sounds good, and these are just a few.

Not that everything is perfect. The commercial loads are still too large and commercial breaks too long. Some stations still make the mistake of running commercial-free hours, which just adds even more commercials to the load in other hours. That needs to be fixed, and owners need to realize that an ad would be more effective as one of a short break than one of many. As KHJ (930 AM) management understood in the early days of Boss Radio Top 40, it is better to run fewer ads and charge more, than to run more ads and discount too much.

But getting back to the point: if you didn’t already listen to the stations you listen to, would you even know about them? What they play? The personalities? The hosts on talk stations? Of course not. And it has only gotten worse under the large corporate ownership model that began years ago.

Ironically, it is the small stations across the country that still do it right. The large corporate owners seem to have forgotten what marketing is all about. And having a nationwide contest with a key word of the day to enter on a website is not going to change things. It’s dull, and it doesn’t bring in new listeners. For me, competing against listeners from 700 stations around the country is a turn-off.

So will radio fix this? I doubt it. At least not until the big corporate clusters are broken up. It doesn’t matter what content you have if no one knows it’s there.

Reality radio

If you’ve ever watched “reality TV” you know that the word “reality” is more of a joke than anything else. The same goes for “Ryan’s Roses,” which still runs on the KIIS-FM morning Ryan Seacrest program in spite of it being exposed as a fraud right here at least twice. Perhaps like the television reality programs, it’s “just entertainment,” so no one really cares. But I think on the radio, many people actually believe it’s happening.

File source

Tags
Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button
Close